SASKATOON - Canada will again be sending a team to the Para Ice Hockey Women's World Challenge in Green Bay, Wisc.
This is the second year for the international challenge event, and for the second time Tracey Arnold is on the national team. Arnold is originally from Glen Ewen and now resides in Saskatoon.
So what keeps Arnold involved at a high level where she must commit so much time without the motivation of a big pay cheque?
“For me the motivation is the upcoming next generation of players who are wanting to play,” she said, adding as a veteran goaltender she can help the story develop.
And, because para ice hockey for women is still relatively new the sport is a place Arnold too continues to learn and grow as a player.
“I really enjoy learning and the challenge of it,” she said.
It’s a situation as a player Arnold said she simply works to better herself each year.
In that regard Arnold is helped by staying busy as a para goaltender, playing on the local Saskatoon Ice Tornadoes, an amateur sledge hockey club, uniting players of all abilities, and also performing for Team Saskatchewan. She said playing as much as she has the opportunity to do certainly helps when it comes to Team Canada.
Interestingly, Arnold noted that being on the provincial team often has her facing her national team teammates.
“It’s opened my eyes to the different way of players,” she said.
The process has made Arnold something of a student of the game as they say.
“I definitely study players, especially on the ice – how they pass, how they shoot.”
Arnold said in para hockey players can shoot with either hand, and a puck can be difficult to track among a clusters of sledges, so focus as a goaltender is huge.
“That’s why I like it so much, you’re challenged mentally and physically,” she said.
All the games have allowed Arnold to know herself better as a player.
“I’m understanding where my level of play is,” she said, adding that builds confidence. “It’s me believing in myself.”
So when she self-analyzes what are her greatest strengths as a player?
“For me, I’m pretty calm on the ice. I think that’s one of my strengths, staying calm,” said Arnold.
And, now it’s off to the second annual World Para Ice Hockey event which will feature Canada, the U.S., Great Britain, and Team Asia. The event runs Aug. 31 to Sept. 3
Canada took silver in 2022, with the U.S. taking the gold.
“Definitely we want to change the colour of the medal,” said Arnold, adding gold is certainly the goal.
“We’re better prepared as a team. We’ve played together more.”
Experience of course is important.
“Half of the team were rookies last year,” noted Arnold.
Now with another year, the team has put in a lot more work, and are looking forward to hitting the ice to show the effort has paid off, said Arnold.