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2014 Olympic profile: Catherine Ward

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According to the Hockey Canada website on Monday, the Canadian women's hockey team was announced for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi at a press conference at Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary.

Among the Canadian players selected was defenseman Catherine Ward of Montreal, Quebec. At 26 years of age, Ward has been praised on the international level for her outstanding defensive skills. Ward is one of only two defensemen (the other being Meaghan Mikkelson of Regina) who are returning to the team who represented Canada and won a gold medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

Ward also showed her excellent ability to pass the puck at the 2013 World Women's Hockey Championship in Ottawa, where she was the co-leader in tournament assists with six (joined by Canadian forward Marie-Philip Poulin and American forward Amanda Kessel).

Here is my recent interview with Ward:

The United States is your biggest rival. What have you learned from them in the last month that will help you as the team gets closer to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi?

In the first three games (two in the exhibition series and one game in the 4 Nations Cup), we gave them no time and space. (Recently) I think we were kind of slack. We've given them too much time and space and almost too much respect. That's something we can't do against them.

There's going to be a new format change at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. You will now have the Americans early this time. What is your opinion on the format change and is it better for women's hockey overall?

I think it's better. I think it creates very interesting games. I think that the games against the U.S. are always interesting. Russia, Switzerland, Finland and Sweden are all getting better. Having that type of format helps us prepare better and I think it's a lot more interesting for the fans.

For those who have never played the position of defense before, why is it considered the most difficult position in hockey to play?

Well, the forwards from the other team are coming full speed at you and I think it is hard to know exactly what they're doing. Especially some very skilled forwards can make you look quite foolish.

It was a huge surprise when Tessa Bonhomme was cut from the team. Are you prepared to potentially have a greater leadership role on the blueline this time around?

Yes, I think so. I'm looking forward to it and hopefully that will be the case. I think Tessa is a big loss to the team. She had a big role off the ice too. So it's going to be hard to fill in for her. But, it's something I have to deal with and as a group, I think we can come together.

How meaningful was it for you to be the co-leader in assists at the 2013 Women's World Hockey Championships in Ottawa?

I didn't even know that. It's a great honour I think. I just focus on winning for the team. It's not my focus to get points.

What will it take for Team Canada to win Olympic gold?

I think it's important to work as a team. It's important to play our best when it matters. Hopefully we'll give no time and space to our opponents.

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