It’s a great time to be Canadian at the women’s Olympic hockey tournament

It’s “As you might guess, we’re not getting very much sleep,” says Robert Powers, the associate athletic director who’s spearheading Canada’s effort to qualify for its first Olympics in women’s hockey. “We are not sleeping at all. We’re sleeping on the floor of the training facility, with the lights off. It’s a totally different feeling. It’s exciting.”

Mr. Powers, a native of St. Louis, is spending the summer in Buffalo — a place where lots of Canadians and other Canadians will want to check out. The city has hosted a couple of international volleyball matches recently and, as Mr. Powers said, “they’re said to attract people from all over the world.”

I’m here at the HarborCenter, where the Canadian team is practicing. It is bright and spacious and even, but still, it’s a bit warm and there’s no air conditioning. I’m surprised at how little fanfare there is here. Sportsrooms are hardly crowded. The rooms are empty. Hockey boards are not covered. I wouldn’t say it’s quiet. On a normal day at the facility, there’s some activity to be found, but by early evening, the place really, really is empty. The Canadians have been practicing since Friday night, which is early for them, and they went to work on Saturday. Coach Melody Davidson is in full command of the on-ice sessions, and the team seems upbeat and eager to meet its Olympic challenge. If they can beat Switzerland on Sunday and win the Olympic qualifier a few weeks from now, they will get a spot at the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018.

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