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By Ali Lee

(ISN) – The men’s and women’s Canadian National field hockey teams depart today, Feb. 9, for New Delhi, India to capture one of the final three remaining spots to the 2012 London Summer Olympic games.

The six team International Hockey Federation Olympic Qualification tournament begins on Feb. 18 for both teams.


Both Canadian sides missed out on their first opportunity to qualify for the Olympics after the men finished second and the women finished fourth at the Pan American Games last October in Guadalajara, Mexico. Only the first place finisher, Argentina for the men and the USA for the women, earned automatic berths to London, therefore sending the Canadian contingencies to through to qualification tournaments.

The Canadian women are lead by captain Katie Baker, of Argyle Shore, P.E.I., who has 108 caps to her name, third highest on the team behind veteran defender Stephanie Jameson (Vancouver, B.C.) with 162 and goal keeper Azelia Liu (Scarborough, Ont.) with 103.

“We are feeling strong going into this qualifier,” said Baker. “On the field, we are competitive and tough. We know what we can do as a team, and we are ready to compete together.”

The men are led by stack of Olympic veterans including captain Ken Pereira (Unionville, Ont.) with 342 caps and Rob Short (Tsawwassen, B.C) with 340 caps. Both Short and Pereira have made Olympic appearances together in 2000 and 2008 and were also joined in 2008 by Scott Sandison (Mississauga, Ont.) and UBC teammates Philip Wright, Scott Tupper and Mark Pearson, each with over 100 caps.

Sole Victoria-native and Oak Bay graduate Maddie Secco will be one of two 17-year-olds competing for Canada in India. The Stanford committed midfielder will be participating in her first major tournament following her first international series this past summer in Vancouver against Japan, Chile and Trinidad and Tobago.

Joining Secco are three former UVic Vikes including forward Thea Culley (Rossland, B.C.) midfielder and CIS All-Canadian Danielle Hennig (Kelowna, B.C.) and 2011 Canada West Goalkeeper of the Year and CIS All-Canadian Kaitlyn Williams (White Rock, B.C.). Both Hennig and Williams will be competing in their second major tournament following their appearance at the 2011 Pan American Games. Cowichan High graduate and penalty corner expert Diana Roemer (Mill Bay, B.C.) will also be one of the few islanders representing Canada.

Both the men’s and women’s national teams are already quite familiar with the New Delhi stadium after competing in the 2010 XIX Commonwealth games. Though the scenery will be new for Secco, Hennig and Williams, the majority of both teams are well accustomed to playing in the New Delhi climate and in front of the home crowd energy. Games begin on Feb. 18 with both teams competing against Italy first.

Canadian Women’s Schedule

Feb. 18 – vs. Italy 12:00 p.m.

Feb. 19 – vs. India 6:00 p.m.

Feb. 21 – vs. Ukraine 10:00 a.m.

Feb. 22 – vs. Poland 2:00 p.m.

Feb. 24 – vs. South Africa 2:00 p.m.

Feb. 25 – Final Games

Canadian Men’s Schedule

Feb. 18 – vs. Italy 2:00 p.m.

Feb. 19 – vs. Poland 12:00 p.m.

Feb. 21 – vs. Singapore 2:00 p.m.

Feb 22 – vs. India 8:00 p.m.

Feb. 24 – vs. France 4:00 p.m.

Feb. 26 – Final Games

TEAM CANADA WOMEN: Abigail Raye (Kelowna, BC).. Anna Kozniuk (North Vancouver, BC).. Azelia Liu (Scarborough, ON).. Brienne Stairs (Kitchener, ON).. Danielle Hennig (Kelowna, BC).. Diana Roemer (Mill Bay, BC).. Hannah Haughn (North Vancouver).. Kate Gillis (Kingston, ON).. Kate Thompson (Vancouver).. Katie Baker (Argyle Shore, BC).. Kaitlyn Williams (White Rock, BC).. Kristine Wishart (Hamilton, ON).. Maddie Secco (Victoria, BC).. Natalie Sourisseau (Kelowna, BC).. Sara McManus (Tsawwassen, BC).. Stephanie Jameson (Vancouver).. Thea Culley (Rossland, BC).. Tyla Flexman (Vancouver)

WOMEN’S STAFF TEAM: Head Coach: Louis Mendonca (Thornhill, ON).. Assistant Coach: Paul Bundy (Vancouver).. Manager: Stefanie Sloboda (Winnipeg, MB).. Video Analyst: John DeSouza (Toronto).. Athletic Therapist: Noreen Ortilla (Georgetown, ON).. Physician: Dr. Navin Prasad (Vancouver).. Video Tech: Minder Gill (Vancouver)

TEAM CANADA MEN: David Carter (Vancouver).. Adam Froese (Abbotsford, BC).. Jagdish Gill (Toronto).. Matthew Guest (Melbourne, Australia).. Richard Hildreth (Vancouver).. David Jameson (Vancouver).. Antoni Kindler (Vancouver).. Mark Pearson (Tsawwassen, BC).. Ken Pereira (Unionville, ON).. Scott Sandison (Mississauga, ON).. Rob Short (Tsawwassen, BC).. Gabbar Singh (Mississauga, ON).. Iain Smythe (Vancouver).. Hudson Stewart (Vancouver).. Rogier Trip (Wassenaar, Zuid-Holland).. Scott Tupper (Vancouver).. Jesse Watson (North Vancouver).. Philip Wright (Vancouver)

MEN’S STAFF TEAM: Head Coach: Robin D’Abreo (Vancouver).. Assistant Coach: Anthony Farry (Canberra, ACT, Australia).. Manager: Kinder Gill (Vancouver).. Physician: Dr. Navin Prasad (Vancouver).. Psychologist: Bruce Pinel (Victoria, BC).. Physiotherapist: Sean Campbell (North Vancouver).. Video: Giles Wheatley.. Video Tech: Minder Gill (Vancouver)

More info: www.fieldhockey.ca