As Canada’s defending Olympic gold medal women’s hockey team prepares to take to the ice, a lineswoman from Nova Scotia prepares to officiate her last game of the 2014 Olympics.
Denise Caughey-Sondjo went to the Olympics with the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Three of its 15 officials at the Olympics are Canadian. They're not eligible to officiate the gold medal game since Canada is a competitor.
Instead, Caughey-Sondjo will officiate the bronze medal game between Switzerland and Sweden.
Denise now lives in Quebec City where she works for a sports equipment company — and she officiates evenings and weekends.
She grew up in Truro and started playing hockey when she was eight years old. She gives a lot of credit to her hometown for making her Olympic moment possible.
“The right people were there at the right time in Truro to put me on the right path. I don’t know what we were drinking in that time, what was in our water — we have great water by the way — but there’s me this year at the Olympics, and one of my close friends from when I was a kid — he went to the NHL this year as a referee," said Caughey-Sondjo.
"One of the guys that we reffed all the time … he made it to the NHL as a player for Pittsburgh and there was another guy we played golf with all the time, he went to the NHL as a player. You know it’s just, wow, Truro is just on the ball.”
Before leaving for Sochi, she told the CBC's Rachelle Solomon every weekend since she was 15 has been dedicated to hockey — playing or officiating — and she was thrilled to be going to the Olympics.
What’s incredible is that if the Canadian women's team was not competing in the gold-medal round, Caughey-Sondjo said she might have come home with her own gold medal.
“If we [officiate] a medal game, then we get a medal. Last year at [one hockey tournament], it wasn’t a medal but it was a really nice plaque, which to me is better than a medal. When I did the gold [medal game] at the Four Nations Cup I got the actual medal because they do realize what it takes for us to get there,” she said.
“Bronze would be nice, but just being there is entirely an opportunity on its own.”
Caughey-Sondjo was on the ice for the Russia vs. Japan match on Feb 11, the Japan vs.Germany match on Feb. 13, the Russia vs.Switzerland match on Feb. 15, and the U.S. vs. Sweden match on Feb. 17.
The women's gold medal game airs on CBC Television at 1 p.m. AT Thursday. The bronze medal game starts earlier in the day at 8 a.m. AT.