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Church to coach Canadian women's hockey team in 2014

The Canadian Press

6/6/2012 4:42:07 PM

OTTAWA -- The Canadian women's hockey team a has set its sights on a fourth straight Olympic gold medal at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, and Dan Church has been tasked with leading them there.

Church was named the head coach of Canada's national women's team for the next two seasons Wednesday.

The 39-year-old Toronto native recently coached Canada to a gold medal at this year's world championships, Canada's first world title since 2007.

Canada's women have captured gold at the last three Olympics and Church knows anything less in Sochi will be a disappointment.

"We're looking to get better over the next two years and to have a dominating performance by the time we get to Ottawa next year and then to the Olympics in 2014," he said.

Ottawa will host the 2013 women's world championships.

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Danielle Goyette was named an assistant coach for both seasons. The remaining coaching staff will be named at a later date.

Church, who has coached the women's hockey team at York University the past nine years, said the team is looking forward to defending its world title on home ice next year. A selection camp will be held in Ottawa in January, and Church anticipates some stiff competition amongst players.

"We have a lot of great veteran players on our team right now who lead by example and did a great job in the gold medal game and scored some big goals for us," said Church. "We're also in a period where we have a lot of younger players who are making their first appearance on national teams or heading to their first Olympics or just their second Olympics.

"There's a good pool of young players who are always pushing for spots and that's a key to success. You can't get stagnant."

Church and Goyette worked together at this year's world championships, and Goyette believes the players will benefit from consistency in the coaching staff leading into Sochi.

"Different coaches have different game plans and you can't expect players to just turn on a switch and understand a new system," said Goyette, coach at the University of Calgary for the past six years. "I think having the same coaches will definitely help the team be more competitive."

Having experienced the Olympics as a player, Goyette understands the pressure players will be dealing with. But she said winning gold as a coach at the world championships was 20 times more rewarding than winning it as a player and she's excited about the opportunity to capture gold at the Olympics.

"We're new coaches and now we have to put our stamp on the team," said Goyette.