By Josh Howald
There have been plenty of medals for Canada’s inline hockey program in recent years – just no gold ones.
The drought came to an end Sunday night in the hockey hotbed of Bucaramonga, Columbia when Kincardine native Kendra Fisher backstopped Canada to a 4-2 win over the rival Americans in the gold medal game of the 2012 Inline Hockey World Championships.
Kendra Fisher with her gold medal Sunday in Colombia. (photo courtesy of FIRS International)
“We went into the tournament with one goal, only one option – gold,” said Fisher Monday, while making the trip home from Colombia. “The finals were tough, Canada vs. U.S.A. is a rivalry we always take to heart, and we owed them from the last Worlds. “
The United States defeated Canada in last year’s gold medal game in Italy, one year after the Czech Republic beat Canada in the gold medal game on home soil. Canada, in fact, had not won gold at this tournament since 2005. Both teams went into Sunday’s final with perfect 5-0 records. And while the first couple of games were lopsided affairs, it wasn’t a cakewalk to the gold medal game.
“We had a few tough ones,” said Fisher. “It’s definitely a growing sport. We had tough games with Spain and France. It’s great to see how many countries are involved.”
Fisher was in goal for a 12-0 shutout win over Brazil in the tournament opener, while Amanda Squire picked up the clean sheet in a 13-0 win over the host Colombians. Canada also hammered Argentina 12-1 before its first real test. Fisher was up to the task, and blanked France in a tight 4-0 game. That win sent the Canadians into a semi-final game against Spain.
Canada opened up a 1-0 lead in the semi-final on a disputed goal from tournament scoring leader Jackie Jarrell. The Spaniards argued the puck went in through the side of the net, to no avail. Either way, Spain became the first team to put a puck past Fisher, tying the game a short time later. However, Seaforth’s Kathy (Deveraux) Simoes, put Canada back in front when she set up Amamda Parkins to regain the lead. Montana Monterante made it 3-1 with 10 minutes to play when she one-timed a pass from Dana Somerville. Canada played the final minutes shorthanded, and Fisher stood tall to preserve the win and earn a berth to the gold medal game.
The gold medal game belonged to Canada. Captain Latoya Clarke opened the scoring, and Jarrell made it 2-0 before the half. Canada built up a 4-0 lead on goals from Reid and Michelle Bonello before the Americans got on the scoreboard. They added a second quick goal to make it 4-2 with 6:10 to play, but Fisher came up big in the final minutes to blank the U.S. and secure the first gold medal for Canada since 2005.
Fisher was also a member of that team, as was Lurgan Beach connected Keely Brown. Brown also won gold Sunday, as a member of the coaching staff.
“The coaching was phenomenal,” said Fisher. “And this was such an amazing group of ladies. "It is an honour to be able to experience moments like these.”
Fisher said the players were well looked after in Bucaromonga, with armed guards watching over their compounds. They did feel safe, however, and enjoyed the experience.
“We were welcomed with open arms. It was a lot to adjust to, but the fans were incredible. “
Still, it will be good to get back home to the country she loves.
“I’m so grateful for all of the support that kept coming from back home,” she said. “ It really reminds us how important it is and how lucky we are to represent such a great country.”
The men’s world championship tournament began Monday, with Canada looking to snap a streak that dates back even longer, to 2002.