Switzerland’s national women's hockey team took to the ice Sunday morning at the Peggy Hill Team Community Centre in south-end Barrie to practise for the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship, which is being held in Brampton this year.
The Swiss team was warming up for their pre-tournament exhibition game against Team Germany at Barrie's Sadlon Arena on Friday, March 31.
Both the German and Swiss teams are being hosted here in the city, as the Barrie Women’s Hockey Association led the development of a proposal to Hockey Canada for Barrie to be a pre-competition host community for the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship, along with the collaboration of Tourism Barrie and the City of Barrie.
The team’s practice time slot landed in the middle of the Simcoe Muskoka Girls Hockey League championship at the same arena, featuring house league teams from Barrie, Orillia, Huntsville, Midland, and Collingwood.
There was a warm, welcoming gesture by the Orillia under-9 team as they lined up outside the Swiss team’s dressing room and surprised them with high-fives as they took to the ice.
Rob Emerson, president of the Barrie Women's Hockey Association, said he was pleased with the timing, as the young players had a front-row seat to watch elite-level hockey skills up close.
“I think it’s important for all kids to have the highest level to look up to and to see what could be, and what the potential is if they put all the effort and years of work into it," Emerson said.
Alena Rossel, a player on the Swiss team, said the most important for them is to work well as a team heading into the world championships.
“And to shoot better,” she said.
Laura Zimmerman, another Swiss player, said it’s critical for the young girls who were at the Mapleton Avenue arena to observe how top-level hockey practices are conducted.
“It’s great to be an idol for them and to look up to us," she added.
As far as their strategy against Team Canada at the upcoming event, Zimmerman said: “I think we need to play how we practise and with a lot of emotion.”
The 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship features the world’s 10 best teams competing for gold in Brampton, April 5-16.
Team Canada is the two-time reigning women’s world hockey champions and will be looking for their first triple crown since winning the 1999, 2000 and 2001 championships.
Tickets for the IIHF Women's World Hockey Championship exhibition game taking place at Sadlon Arena in Barrie on March 31 can be purchased by clicking here.