Canada's women's hockey team may be without veteran leaders Hayley Wickenheiser and Caroline Ouellette Wednesday night versus Switzerland at the women's world hockey championships.
Canadian head coach Dan Church says both players have 'upper body injuries' and will be game-time decisions. Church said Wickenheiser has not re-injured the knee that sidelined her during the recent CIS championship tournament for the University of Calgary Dinos, as some suspected late Tuesday.
Wickenheiser, Canada's captain in her 13th world championship, left Tuesday night's tournament-opening game versus the United States in the second period and did not return. Ouellette, in her 12th world tournament, played through the game. Neither player practised with the team on Wednesday morning.
Both players will get treatment today and be re-evaluated before Wednesday's 7:30 pm ET game. The Canadians are the heavy favourite in the preliminary-round contest, never having lost to the Swiss at the world championships. Church insisted he is not taking Switzerland lightly and resting players.
"We respect the Swiss enough that I would play my best lineup against them," said Church. "If we have everyone available and healthy, I would play everyone."
Church will have to get creative with lineup combinations Wednesday night if Ouellette and Wickenheiser can't go. He said some defensemen may need to take shifts at forward.
Some suggest early injuries may be more prevalent in the new world championship structure which debuted just last year and pits Canada and the U.S. against one another on day one of the tournament in the preliminary round, so they play more often than just the gold medal final.
"It's a tough way to start," said Church. "In no other world championship structure do the the top two teams play off against each other, but it's great for the fans – we gave them quite a show last night -- and it's great for our players to be tested."