OTTAWA - The women's world championship is returning to the place where it began after Hockey Canada announced Wednesday that Ottawa will play host to the event in 2013.
The nation's capital was selected ahead of Kamloops, B.C., and St. John's, N.L., for the event.
Ottawa was the site of the first-ever edition of the annual tournament in 1990, a landmark event at the time for women's hockey and one made memorable by the pink-and-white jerseys the first national team wore in place of Canada's traditional red-and-white colours en route to winning the world title.
Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said the pink jerseys won't be reprised, but the importance of the event hasn't got any smaller as it'll serve as a tune-up for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
"We are not wearing pink in 2013, but we are going to go after gold," he said at a news conference at Scotiabank Place, home of the NHL's Ottawa Senators and the main venue for the 2013 women's tournament.
"The players have just gotten so much better and the competition is getting better around the world -- 1990 is very special in the history books, but 2013 is going to be really exciting to be back in Ottawa for the second time and the final preparation for the 2014 Olympics," Nicholson added.
It will be the sixth time that Canada has played host to the tournament. The last time, in Winnipeg in 2007, a women's world attendance record of 122,152 fans was set and that made for a record profit of $751,706 for Hockey Manitoba, Hockey Canada and its member branches.
The 2013 women's tournament, scheduled for April 2-9, required a guaranteed minimum profit of $500,000. It will run in conjunction with the Ontario Women's Hockey Association's provincial championships.
"We had three great bids and it wasn't an easy process, but we certainly picked the best location," Nicholson said. "Ottawa deserves to have it for the second time, but both St. John's and Kamloops put in very quality bids and we look forward to them bidding again in the future."
Ottawa played host to a world junior championship in 2009 that set attendance records for that event and Hockey Canada and its partners are expecting a similar reception for the women's tournament.
"Women's hockey is on the rise here, it's the fastest growing segment of hockey in this country right now and there will be high interest in the Canada-U.S. games, but I think all of the games will draw some interest and be well attended," Senators president Cyril Leeder said.
The last time the national women's team played at Scotiabank Place was Jan. 1, 2010, when a women's game attendance record of 16,347 turned out to watch Canada beat the United States 3-2 in shootout of a exhibition game ahead of the 2010 Vancouver Games, where Canada went on to win the gold medal.
The world championships, however, have lately become the domain of the United States.
Next year's event will take place at Burlington, Vt., where the No. 1-ranked U.S., winners of the last three world tournaments and four-time champions overall, will be looking to defend the title it won last month by beating Canada in overtime in Zurich, Switzerland.
Canada has won nine world championships.
"The U.S. beat us at the last world championships, we've never lost on home soil, so we're going to try to keep that tradition going," Nicholson said.
The teams' dominance has led to concerns over the state of the women's game and its status at the Olympics because of the lack of a more competitive field.
Nicholson said the International Ice Hockey Federation is currently in final approval over a new format for the world tournament.
"There's going to be a new format which has us play the U.S. in the round-robin games and there will be two different pools and they'll be seeded," Nicholson said. "So you're going to see more competitive games, but with everyone still having the opportunity to win the championship, the top teams will play more often."
The Russian federation is also scheduled to travel to Canada this year in a bid to improve its program and, with the lure of the Olympics to get ready for, the 2013 event should see teams send its best players to Ottawa.
"I can guarantee you that most of the teams will be stacking up to prepare for that event," said chair of the board for Hockey Canada, Ken Corbett.