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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wickenheiser sucking it up, intends to play through pain

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OTTAWA -- Hayley Wickenheiser intends to play the rest of the world women's hockey championship even though she's in pain.

Canada's captain and all-time leading scorer skated with the team Sunday for the first time since injuring her back during the tournament opener Tuesday against the United States.

"There's really no risk of further injury," Wickenheiser said after practice. "They've done what they can do to minimize the pain. It's just a matter of being able to play through the pain, and I think I can do that. I can't really do any more damage to it. I feel like I'm going to be able to finish out the tournament."

Canada faces Russia and the United States takes on Finland in today's semifinals, with the winners advancing to Tuesday's championship game.

Wickenheiser skated off the ice and walked to the dressing room in the second period when Canada was trailing the Americans 2-0. She did not return to the game. The hosts rallied to win 3-2 in a shootout.

Wickenheiser, 34, was scratched from a 13-0 win over Switzerland and an 8-0 victory against Finland in the preliminary round. During her absence, assistant captain Jayna Hefford joined her as Canada's all-time leaders in games played, at 248.

Should Canada take control of the game early against Russia, expect head coach Dan Church to limit Wickenheiser's ice time in preparation for the championship game.

"I think we'll play that by ear, and how she feels after today's skate and moving into tomorrow will help form our game plan on that."

Canada's 23 players at this world championship, plus another five, will congregate in Calgary in August to train full time for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The head coach says he took into consideration the future demands on Wickenheiser's body.

"I wouldn't want to take away our long-term success for a short-term gain, so I definitely considered and weighed out all those options," Church said.

The Russian team has a new coach this year and former NHL player Alexei Yashin was appointed general manager in December.

"It's always great, Russia against Canada," Yashin said. "They are a very strong team, but for us, we can use it as a way to learn to play and prepare ourselves for the Olympics (in Sochi, Russia, next winter)."

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 8, 2013 C6

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