It's a moment every red-blooded Candian hockey player dreams of from the first moment they lace up skates. And Tatiana Rafter and Caitlin MacDonald got to live it in full Friday in Italy.
The two Winnipeggers played pivotal roles in helping Canada's women's hockey team capture gold at the World Universiade Games in Trentino, Italy in a 5-0 thumping of Russia in the event's championship game.
"I'm wearing my gold medal right now," said Rafter in a phone interview with the Free Press Friday. "It's the first gold I've ever taken home besides one from CanWest (she plays university hockey at the University of British Columbia) last year. To be able to represent Canada and accomplish this for the past two weeks is pretty cool.
'We just wanted to show how proud we are to be Canadian and how excited we were to bring home the gold'
"We agreed that every win we would all sing the national anthem. We just wanted to show how proud we are to be Canadian and how excited we were to bring home the gold."
Canada romped through the event en route to capturing its third straight title and remaining unbeaten in 21 games since the inaugural FISU tourney in 2009. In Italy the Canadian women out-scored their opponents by a margin of 77-2.
Jenna Smith had two goals and an assist in the final, while Rafter, a centre, had three helpers and MacDonald -- who plays defence for the University of Manitoba -- helped set up one. Laura Brooker, Jessica Pinkerton and Katia Clement-Heydra had the other goals for Canada while goaltender Kelly Campbell earned the shutout.
"The whole trip has been an awesome experience," said MacDonald. "And it was that much better being able to share it with such an amazing group of people."
The team was to drive from Trentino to Verona early this morning. And three planes later the women will be back on home soil.
"I'll be on three different planes, I think," said Rafter with a chuckle. "But it'll be worth it.
"I'm looking forward to sharing this with my family and friends back home."
Canada led just 1-0 after the first period but, after making a few adjustments between periods, managed to overwhelm the Russians by out-shooting them 52-12.
"I'm not sure this was our best game," said head coach Howie Draper from the University of Alberta. "When you're playing in the final, your nerves start to get the better of you. I felt the first period was little rough but we picked it after we got the first goal and played a little more relaxed.
"We wanted to play physical from an offensive stand point. We wanted to drive the net lanes and take the puck to the net. We wanted to create traffic and they didn't like that too much so it created some physical play on their part. Our girls executed the game plan and I'm very happy for them.
"I don't want to say that one (player) stood out," added Draper. "They all had great games and maybe when a few weren't having their best game, others stepped up and that's what great teams do. It was a great team, great to coach them and nice to finish off with a gold."
--with files from The Canadian Press
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