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Manitoba duo axed from Oly squad

Lacquette, Kohanchuk suffer unkindest cut

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WHILE two Manitobans were cut from the list of Olympic women's hockey hopefuls on Tuesday, two others are still in contention to make the final Canadian roster.

Though the biggest news on Tuesday was that Hockey Canada released veteran national team defender Tessa Bonhomme, Waterhen's Brigette Lacquette, a young defender at the University of Minnesota Duluth, and Winnipeg forward Jenelle Kohanchuk were also released before the centralized roster squad headed to a game in Grande Prairie, Alta., Tuesday.

Lacquette is 21, and Kohanchuk 23. Both were taking their first crack at the national team.

Meanwhile, two Manitobans remain in the running for a final roster spot, including experienced blue-liner Jocelyne Laroque -- who was cut from the 2010 squad before the Olympics -- and forward Bailey Bram. Both players hail from Ste. Anne. The final roster for Sochi will max out at 21 players, with one more defender and two forwards yet to be released.

Head coach Dan Church reduced his roster to 24 players as Canada prepares for the chance to defend gold in Sochi, Russia, in February.

Bonhomme, Lacquette and Kohanchuk had just played in the Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y., where Canada beat Finland 6-3 in Saturday's final. Kohanchuk scored twice in the championship game.

"We didn't foresee they were going to be able to move themselves up enough to overtake who was ahead of them on the depth chart at this point," Church said.

"It didn't matter how many weeks were still (to go), we didn't see that happening based on the body of work to date."

Lacquette and Kohanchuk had never played for the national women's team before they were invited to try out for the Olympic team this winter. Between them, they've played 15 international games

Bonhomme, 28, represented Canada in four world championships in addition to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C.

She won three gold and two silver in those tournaments and appeared in her 100th international game during the Four Nations. Offensively skilled and quick on her skates, Bonhomme has 10 goals and 41 assists for Canada, but didn't have any points in Lake Placid.

Bonhomme was one of 13 veterans from 2010 invited to try out for the Olympic team again, but she was beaten out of her job by younger defenders. Lauriane Rougeau, Laura Fortino, Courtney Birchard and Tara Watchorn are newcomers to Canada's blue-line since 2010.

"Jenelle had played very well from the start of the season until now. We just didn't see that she was going to be able to move up enough to make our final roster," Church said. "She's a hard-working player and a real good person, so it was hard to let her go, just as it was the other two players.

"Brigitte is a talented defender and I think there's potential for her down the road if she matures and becomes a more well-rounded athlete."

-- staff/CP

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 13, 2013 C2

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