If Canada’s national teams reach the podium at this week’s World Ball Hockey Championships, there will be some precious metal coming home to Winnipeg.
Three members of Canada’s women’s team — Shelley Cockerill, Chantal Larocque and goalie Delayne Brian — along with Calin Wild of the men’s squad call Winnipeg home.
The quartet is hoping to bring home gold medals from the biannual tournament, held this year in St. John’s, Nfld.
Cockerill, a centre from Waverley Heights, is representing her country for the second time. She won a silver medal in 2011 in Slovakia, and believes this year’s team can get one step higher on the podium.
"We’re definitely capable of gold if we play like a team," she said. "(The 2009 event) was amazing. It was a ton of fun going to a different country and an awesome experience."
Cockerill, who has been the captain of the provincial women’s team since it was formed five years ago, said she’s excited to be joined on the team by two more Manitobans.
"In Manitoba we’re still working on building our women’s program," she said. "It hasn’t increased in numbers very much, but we have a lot of talented players."
The Manitoba women finished fourth at each of the last two national championships, which serve as the best chance for players to be noticed by the national team.
About half of the Canadian roster will be the same as the 2011 team, with the other half comprised of new faces. The biggest challenge for the team might be finding some chemistry with only three practices prior to the tournament opener.
"Gelling as a team is the most important part," Cockerill said.
Eight teams will be competing on the women’s side, while 17 nations will battle for the men’s championship.
Cockerill didn’t get into ball hockey thinking she’d be playing for world championships. The competitive ice hockey player just wanted a fun way to stay in shape during the summer.
"I tried it out about 10 years ago when some friends I played hockey with asked me to join them," she said. "It basically just gives you something to do in the summer."
The game is great for conditioning, she said, because there’s no coasting when you trade your skates for runners.
"It’s fairly similar to ice hockey, but the biggest thing is you’re running the whole time," she said. "You can’t just glide off the ice at the end of a shift, you have to still run."
Wild made his Team Canada debut two years ago, winning silver and earning top defenceman honours. The Canadian men last won gold in 2007.
All games are being live streamed on the Internet at www.stjohns2013wc.com