Hockey-Women’s Worlds in Vermont

Jan. 20, 2011, 5:22 p.m. (ET)
BURLINGTON, Vt. — In 1997, the University of Vermont’s Gutterson Fieldhouse was the site of the first nationally televised women’s hockey game, featuring the national teams of the United States and Canada.

In 2012, Gutterson Fieldhouse will welcome the world.

USA Hockey announced Wednesday that the university and the City of Burlington, Vt. will host the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation World Women’s Championship.

The tournament will consist of eight teams playing 22 games on April 7-14 with the premier women’s hockey players competing for the gold medal that has been won only by Canada (nine times) and the U.S. (three of the past four). No other country has yet reached the championship game.

The composition of the 2012 field will not be determined until this year’s world championships in Switzerland are completed on April 16-25. That tournament includes the U.S., Canada, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Slovakia, Switzerland and Kazakhstan.

USA Hockey officials cited Burlington’s hockey heritage and proximity to Boston, New Yorkand Montreal as appealing factors. Burlington is a city of 39,000 on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, 50 miles from the Canadian border. It is also approximately two hours from Lake Placid, New York, the host city of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games and home of aU.S. Olympic Training Center.

“There’s a lot about Burlington that we liked from the get-go,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey.

“This is a known hockey community, from the university programs, the grass roots programs,the growing women’s programs and the North American Hockey Academy close by, so we know there’s a base of knowledge about women’s hockey and the enthusiasm for the sport that we can draw on here,” he said.

“This is not the Super Bowl; it is for women’s hockey, but it’s not the Super Bowl, so we know it’s an event that fits well with Burlington,” Ogrean said.

Angela Ruggiero, a member of the U.S. national team since 1997 and a veteran of four Winter Games, said, “I was lucky enough to be part of that game that was played here in ’97. The placewas just mad. I still remember it. That’s what I hope and I know the community will turn out tobe in another year.

“I’m so excited to be back on home soil,” she added. “I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’ll betraining along with the rest of the U.S. team to put on a show and hopefully win a gold medal in 2012.”

The tournament will be making its third U.S. appearance. Canada won the gold medals at Lake Placid in 1994 and in Minneapolis in 2001. Minneapolis, Rochester, N.Y., and Hartford, Conn., were also finalists for the 2012 tournament.

Vermont’s 4,000-seat Quonset-style Gutterson Fieldhouse will serve as the main arena. It will be the site of all games involving the U.S. or Canada as well as the playoff and medal rounds. Some preliminary games will be played at the C. Douglas Cairns Arena in nearby South Burlington.

“The two rinks are going to be perfect for our purposes and they’re in close proximity to each other, which means a lot,” Ogrean said. “Sometimes you go to these events and the travel time from one rink to another can be significant. This makes it easier because of the compact nature of it.”

He added, “There’s going to be operation proficiency and it’s going to be a very, very exciting atmosphere for a world championship and we know the fans of the United States and Canada …will be here in large numbers and enjoy that.”

Dr. Robert Corran, associate vice president and director of athletics for the university, said, “This is a hockey community where people support not only the game but also the university. We are very much looking forward to having the world come to Burlington and to share in the experience in which those of us who are fortunate enough to live here have every day.”
 
Ruggiero said she expects the U.S.-Canada rivalry to be in full force in 2012.

“The most intense rivalry out there, of course, you’ve heard about U.S. and Canada, and it continues to build everyday,” she said. “I’ve been on this team for forever now and it never get sold. The intensity continues to grow and it’s played out on the ice which is great for the fans.”

However, she added, “You can’t for a second overlook any of the other countries. We’ve lost to Finland two years ago in our first game in the Worlds. Sweden obviously upset us in the 2006 Olympics. Those are two teams you can’t take lightly and depending upon what their preparation level is, they can beat a U.S. or a Canada any given day.
 
“There’s kind of another echelon below that and I know the IIHF is making some efforts now to improve those countries. There’s definitely a concerted effort to raise the level of women’shockey across the board. I’m an athlete. I love playing 2-1 games, close games every single match. I would like to see those countries improve. Hopefully over the next few years, we’ll see that. I can’t say in the next year what that trail will be, but you’ll definitely have everyone’s bestin the world.”
 
The game schedule and ticket packages for the tournament in Vermont will be announced inMay. Information will be available at USAHockey.com.

Gutterson Fieldhouse is the home of UVM’s men’s and women’s NCAA Division I hockeyprograms. Both compete in the Hockey East Association.

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Ted Ryan is a freelance contributor for teamusa.org.This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.