Hayley Wickenheiser back on ice, says she'll play in semi
Team Canada to face Russia in Monday semifinal match
OTTAWA — Head coach Dan Church wanted to treat Hayley Wickenheiser with kid gloves when she was back on the ice at the world championship tournament Sunday, but Team Canada's captain wanted nothing to do with it.
The hope was to have Wickenheiser wear the yellow no-contact jersey at Canada's final practice in preparation for Monday's semifinal against Russia in what was her first full training session with the team since missing three games with what can now be disclosed as back spasms.
"I suggested it and it didn't go very well,'' Church said.
Wickenheiser tweaked a knee in the Clarkson Cup championship tournament prior to the start of the women's world championship but said she was fit to play in the eight-team competition.
She left in the second period of the tournament-opener against the United States with what was described as an upper-body injury. As things turned out, Wickenheiser suffered back spasms connected to the knee injury that caused her to sit out.
"There was a lot of pain in other parts of my body because of that, just a lot of pain, but I feel I am ready to go,'' said Wickenheiser. "I think now there is no more further risk of injury.
"If I would be risking permanent damage, I might think twice. But I feel I am in good hands with the doctors and they said I am ready to go."
Canada didn't miss a beat with their captain, who is playing in her 12th world tournament, on the sidelines. They trailed 2-0 when Wickenheiser left the game against the Americans, but rallied to win 3-2 in a shootout. They followed with victories over Finland and Switzerland to earn a bye to the semifinal.
Church isn't sure how he will use Wickenheiser against the Russians.
"She will help us but how we utilize her, we will have to play that by ear,'' he said.
Wickenheiser, who is Canada's all-time leader in game played and points, is primed to get back into the line-up.
"I feel I can go full tilt. It is up to the coach but medically I am not limited."