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Team Manitoba skaters gunning for gold

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THEY'LL be a younger team but they'd like to fix one thing from last year's national women's under-18 hockey championship.

"We went in there wanting to make history for Manitoba and we knew we could be the team to do that," said Team Manitoba forward Nicole Carswell, 17, about 2012's 2-1 gold-medal loss to Team Ontario-Blue. "When we lost, it was a pretty upsetting. But as rookies, we just had to get the mentality that next year, we'll hope to have a better result."

Team Manitoba has five returning players, including Carswell. The team is off to the nationals for another crack at gold Nov. 6-10 in Calgary.

This time there will be 15 new players.

"We had a veteran team and our expectations were high and we really built going into every game," head coach Neil Chow (who coaches the male Winnipeg Hawks bantams) said about last year. "We were better every game and we were really disappointed not to come out with a better result."

Any lessons there?

"The coaching staff has a lot of experience but it's what you impart on the players," Chow said. "We have a lot of eager, ready-to-learn players.

"It's a five-game tournament, if we can get the chemistry, we can get it done."

Chow said he'd like the team replicate last year's hard-working, relentless style.

"It's been a good program in Manitoba for a long time and Mel Davidson (now GM and former coach of Canada's national women's team) said it herself, that we're the Moneyball of hockey in Canada," Chow said. "We took that to heart."

Carswell, who plays regularly for the Winnipeg Avros, will be one of the returning players who can help promote that style and that mentality.

"I would definitely tell (this year's rookies) to just do their best, to go out there and not think about everyone in the stands and just to focus on what they're doing on the ice," she said. "And look out for (teammates) and enjoy the moment, really, because it's such a good experience."

On Friday, Hockey Manitoba also announced the Team Manitoba roster for the four-team Western Canada U-16 Challenge Cup in Calgary, Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

The team has some good bloodlines, to be sure, including Oakbank's Brett Howden, brother of NHLer Quinton Howden, and Nolan Patrick, son of former NHLer Steve Patrick and nephew of former NHLer James Patrick.

Patrick was the fourth-overall pick by the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings in last spring's bantam draft. Howden went No. 5 to Moose Jaw.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Rosters for both Manitoba teams can be found on Page C9

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 C8

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