CALGARY, Alta. – They have represented Canada and won a combined 20 Olympic and world championship gold medals as part of the National Women’s Team, and are now moving into a new phase in their lives having inspired thousands of young girls to take up the sport they love.
Jayna Hefford, a five-time Olympian, four-time Olympic gold medallist and seven-time world champion; Gillian Apps, a three-time Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion; and Catherine Ward, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and one-time world champion, have announced they are retiring from international competition.
“On behalf of Hockey Canada and Canadian hockey fans everywhere, I want to thank each of these players for their dedication to Canada’s National Women’s Team,” said Tom Renney, president and CEO of Hockey Canada. “Their accomplishments have helped grow women’s hockey worldwide, and they leave behind an incredible legacy. We know they will continue to be incredible ambassadors for women’s hockey and wish them success in their future careers.”
“I take a lot of pride in the consistency of my game and in having some of best seasons near the end of my career.”
– Jayna Hefford of her 17 seasons as a member of Canada’s National Women’s Team
Jayna Hefford, 38, made her debut with Canada’s National Women’s Team at the 1997 IIHF World Women’s Championship, and finishes her international career ranked second all-time in Team Canada history in games played (267), goals (157), and points (291).
The Kingston, Ont., native is a four-time Olympic gold medallist with Canada in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014, and added a silver medal in 1998. In 2002, Hefford scored the game-winning goal with one second remaining in the second period on the road to Canada’s victory against the United States in Salt Lake City.
Hefford is also a seven-time world champion and five-time silver medallist at the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, winning gold in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2012 and silver in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013. Additionally, she is a 12-time gold medallist with Canada’s National Women’s Team at the 3 Nations/4 Nations Cup, while also helping Canada to five silver medals at the event.
“Being part of Team Canada was the realization of a dream. From a very young age, I hoped to play for Canada and I’ve been so fortunate to live my passion for so long,” said Hefford. “I played with so many great leaders in moments of adversity that I could look up to, and I will always cherish the friends I made during my time on the ice. I will take so many things away from the game; my experiences have defined my character and I’ve learned so many valuable life lessons. The character I developed through my time in the game will be the greatest thing I take away.”
Hefford hopes to mix her newly acquired business studies with sport as part of her future career plans.
“Jayna’s accomplishments on the ice speak for themselves, but it is her off-ice contributions to the game and leadership that I admire,” said Melody Davidson, general manager of national women’s team programs, Hockey Canada. “I want to thank Jayna for the leadership she has shown as a veteran and mentor to our younger players, and to the larger hockey community in Canada and around the world. Heff is a model of consistency in how she approaches the game, and what she delivers on the ice.”
“I would encourage young players to fall in love with the game. I played hockey because I loved it, even when I wasn’t very good.”
– Gillian Apps’ advice to girls interested in playing hockey
Gillian Apps, 31, made her debut with Canada’s National Women’s Team in 2001 and retires after reaching the 100-point milestone for her career. In 164 games for Canada’s National Women’s Team, she scored 50 goals and added 50 assists.
The native of Unionville, Ont., won three Olympic gold medals with Canada in 2006, 2010 and 2014, scoring 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points. She scored 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) at the 2006 Turin Games, where she was named to the media all-star team. Apps is a three-time IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Women’s Championship gold medallist (2004, 2007, 2012) as well as five-time silver medallist (2005, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013).
As the youngest centralized player in Calgary during the 2001-02 Olympic season, Apps went on to win a gold medal with Canada’s National Women’s Team at the 2002 4 Nations Cup in Kitchener, Ont., and added seven additional gold medals in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2013. She played in 13 games for Canada’s National Women’s Under-22/Development Team, scoring 17 points in 13 career games.
“It was such an honour and a dream come true to play for Team Canada and play the game I love while representing my country. I’m so proud to have worn the maple leaf alongside my teammates; we became like a family and those friendships are ones that I will cherish forever,” said Apps. “I have learned so much about myself through sport and my time with Canada’s National Women’s Team has taught me about strength, balance, perseverance, character, and support. I feel very grateful to have gone through so much being part of such an amazing program.”
Apps said despite being undecided on what her next step will be, she’s excited about what the future holds.
“Gillian’s personality is as big as her talent. She values the team environment and thrives off of the energy of her teammates,” said Davidson. “Gillian has a pure passion for the game that helps elevate those around her; whatever direction she decides to pursue next, she will be able to impact with her work ethic and her approach to working with others. I want to thank Gillian for her commitment to the game, to her teammates, and to sharing in our goals to inspire young players through our successes on the ice.”
“Hockey has taught me so much and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it; it has shaped me for the better.”
– Catherine Ward’s thoughts on what she takes away from hockey
Catherine Ward, 28, made her debut with Canada’s National Women’s Program in 2006 as a member of Canada’s National Women’s Under-22 Team and finishes her as career as a two-time Olympic gold medallist, in 2010 and 2014.
The Montreal, Que., native, captured a gold medal with Canada at the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in 2012 and added three silvers medals in 2009, 2011 and 2013. Ward also won a pair of gold medals at the 4 Nations Cup (2009, 2013) and two silver medals (2008, 2012). She finishes her 77-game career with Canada’s National Women’s Team with 43 points (seven goals, 36 assists).
As a member of Canada’s National Women’s Under-22/Development Team, Ward played 24 games, registering 15 points. She won a pair of gold medals at the Air Canada Cup, in 2007 and 2008, and added a silver at the MLP Cup in 2009.
“I dreamed of being part of Team Canada from a young age and I feel very privileged to have had the chance to be part of it,” said Ward. “From the drive and discipline it takes to achieve your goals, to the friendships I’ve made along the way, hockey has shaped me into who I am today. It taught me how to be a leader and how to make others around me better and I’m fortunate to now combine my two passions, hockey and business into one.”
Ward has been working as an assistant product manager with Reebok-CCM hockey for the past year and will continue to manage the development of hockey sticks with the company.
“It has been a pleasure to watch Catherine come through the under-18 branch programs, into the National Women’s Development Team, and culminate as an Olympian; she has developed into such a successful person on and off the ice,” said Davidson. “Her skill and compete level on the ice and dedication to Canada’s National Women’s Team program are undeniable. I thank Catherine for her contributions to the program, and wish her success in her new career in the hockey business.”