Dinos star in Three Nations Cup

By Darren Friesen

Words like redemption and revenge come to mind for the women’s national hockey team who–after losing to their arch rivals from the us in the Olympics two years ago–have reclaimed their winning tradition. In Montréal at the Three Nations Cup in mid-December, the Canadian squad pulled off some impressive victories, going undefeated against the us and Finland. In typical fashion the Canadians left fans on the edge of their seats on a fateful Sunday afternoon as they once again squared off in the final against the Americans. An announced crowd of 2,657 in the Maurice Richard Arena watched as these two teams renewed old battles and struggled for international hockey supremacy.

As regulation and a 10-minute overtime ticked away, the game remained tied 2-2, which set the stage for the much-anticipated shoot-out. Ultimately, the Canadian women refused to lose another heartbreaker and scored two goals to the Americans’ zero, capturing their third championship in this tournament–an extremely important victory for the national women’s program and a great day for Canadian hockey fans.

While this victory was celebrated all over Canada, it was especially poignant for the Dinos women’s hockey program which supplied the national team with three players for the tournament. Dana Antal (forward), Kelly Bechard (forward) and Lorenda Beuker (goalie) all participated in the celebrations, and are a big part of the Dinos almost perfect 7-1 record.

Phrases like "student of the game," "gifted with the puck," and "face-off specialist" are used to describe these players by Dinos head coach Julie Healy. She also speaks enthusiastically of their abilities to help the Dinos as a team because of the international experience.

"When they come back and they play with the Dinos, they will bring the level of our game up and pull everyone up with them," said Healy.

The Christmas break gave players time to revel in their victory and prepare for the second half of the season. Goaltender Lorenda Beuker, a native of Saskatchewan and a third-year Dino is no stranger to tough competition. As a former national junior team member and one of the two backstoppers to contribute to the tournament victory she had time to reflect on the life changing events of late.

"Knowing what’s out there for competition, and knowing what it’s like to step onto the ice against the great teams of the world and being on one of the great teams of the world–there’s nothing like it," said Beuker.

Beuker, who split the goaltending duties on the national team, definitely feels her experience will make her a better collegiate athlete as well as a better overall competitor.

"Everything I learned at the international level will help my game. I now know what I have to do to be successful and it’s just a matter of practicing it on a day to day basis with the Dinos."

She added that this experience for all the girls will help their motivation to capture the women’s Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union title.

"It lit a fire. It’s all about excellence and having great habits, which I know we will bring to another team."

The Dinos women start the new year on Jan. 14, against the University of Lethbridge and amongst the players on the ice will be three tough international competitors that will no doubt bring their experience to university athletics.