Olympics

Siegel: Canadian women shoot for fourth straight hockey gold

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Jonas Siegel
2/7/2014 10:39:55 AM
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SOCHI - What she remembers most is what it felt like to stand on the blue-line, proudly watch the Canadian flag rise for the first time and hear O'Canada belted out passionately amongst a sea of Americans.

"Just that feeling of complete satisfaction," said Jayna Hefford. "Feeling like everything we went through paid off."

It was 2002 in Salt Lake City and the first of three consecutive Olympic gold medals for the national women's hockey program with Hefford, a native of Kingston, Ontario, scoring the game-winning goal in triumph over Team USA.

The bid for a fourth straight gold begins Saturday at Shayba Arena with a preliminary round matchup against Switzerland.

"It's a memory and a feeling I'll never forget," said Hefford of winning gold for the first time, one of three on the roster to do so in 2002, 2006, and 2010. "It was a special time so I'm hoping we can recreate it here [in Sochi]."

Getting to that point is certain to include yet another round of hostilities with an American team bent on ending Canada's run of dominance at this event. Though they've captured four of the past five World Championships, beating the Canadians each time, the US squad has fallen in two of the past three gold medal games, yet to triumph at the Olympics since 1998.

"Obviously we have a great rivalry with them," said Hefford, "but there's a lot of games before then and if we don't take care of ourselves here we could face them either earlier than we want in a medal round or not get to a medal round so it's really day-by-day and I think that's the best way to look at it."

These will be the fifth Olympics for Hefford, but she says the experience remains as fresh and exciting as it was 16 years ago when women's hockey was first introduced to the Olympic stage in Nagano - she and the Canadians were edged by the Americans in the gold medal game.

"You still have that youthful energy and that excitement," she said. "It's so exciting to be here. You try to take lessons that you learned along the way and bring them into this one, but it still feels like the first one."

And that's just one of the lessons she'll try to impart on a group of teammates itching for their first taste of gold - enjoy the moment.

"It goes by so quickly and you wait so long to get here so really just take in every day and enjoy that," said Hefford, also advising patience with the team's plan of attack. "There's tough days and there's going to be challenges in these next two weeks, but believe that in the end we can be where we want to be."

Jayna Hefford (Photo: LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

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(Photo: LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
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