Road To The Olympic Games

Olympics Winter

Fasel vows to fix women's hockey

The IIHF plans to stiffen the qualifying standard that permits host countries automatic entry into the women's Olympic hockey competition.

There'll be no more free passes into the women's hockey competition for host nations at future Olympic Winter Games.

International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel vowed Friday to stiffen the qualifying standard that permitted Italy automatic entry into the Torino Olympics.

"For sure, we will do something about participation of the host nation," Fasel said. "Italy is ranked No. 17 for the women.

"We'll change the regulations so that they'll have to be in the top 10 to participate. And if not, they'll have to qualify."

Team Italy, one of the weakest national teams in the world, lost its first three games by a combined score of 32-1, including a record-setting 16-0 setback to defending champion Team Canada in its Olympic debut.

The Italians proved so inept that Canada, which will host the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, was criticized for trying to run up the score.

"You just need to be patient," Fasel said. "The women are working well.

"It will be different in Vancouver. We'll have stronger teams."

Part of the problem stems from the fact that Italy has only 373 registered female players to choose from, whereas 66,000 play organized hockey in Canada.

Fasel's planned edict won't apply to men's Olympic hockey.

with files from CP Online