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Wildcats trio ready for Team Ontario’s golden quest at 2015 Canada Winter Games

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As Ontario looks towards capturing women’s hockey gold at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, British Columbia, a trio of stars from the PWHL’s Nepean Wildcats will be part of that ambitious effort. Forward Samantha Cogan and blueliners Lindsay Eastwood and Josianne Pozzebon bring remarkable hockey resumes to the roster.

Having helped transform the Wildcats into one of the powerhouse teams in the PWHL, their strong bond of friendship may be even more remarkable than their on-ice accomplishments. For Eastwood, who has played alongside Cogan and Pozzebon for several seasons, the chance to call them teammates at the Canada Winter Games is one that she will surely cherish,

“Getting to share this opportunity with them is great. It is a dream come true being able to play with a couple of your best friends. This is very exciting and to share it with people close to you makes it even more fun.”

Earlier this year, the trio also donned the Maple Leaf on their jerseys as part of the Canadian contingent that competed at the 2015 U18 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Buffalo, New York. Seven other players from the Canadian U18 roster shall also be joining Cogan, Eastwood and Pozzebon for Team Ontario.

The list includes Lindsay Agnew (who assisted on Cogan’s third-period goal of the Gold Medal Game at the IIHF U18 Worlds), Madison Field, Rhyen McGill, Kristen O’Neill, Sarah Quaranta, Stephanie Sucharda and Kaitlin Tse. As a side note, Canada’s U18 goaltending consultant, Amanda Mazzotta, shall also serve in the same capacity with Team Ontario.

“I think this is a pretty cool experience. We get to see other athletes. Not only in hockey, but other sports. To be able to see all the work that they put in, it will be really great to be part of Team Ontario,” remarked Pozzebon.

For Cogan, there will be another familiar face on the Ontario roster. Ontario head coach Bradi Cochrane, who is also the head coach for the PWHL’s Oakville Hornets, had the opportunity to have Cogan compete on one of her teams. In the autumn of 2013, Cogan suited up for Team Ontario Red, helping the squad capture the gold medal at the 2013 Canadian U18 Nationals.

“I know what she is like. She really known how to talk to the girls. She does not yell and explains what went wrong. She has a way with the players that not everyone has, and every girl on the team respects that.”

During the 2013 U18 Nationals, Cogan would find herself playing against Eastwood and Pozzebon in the gold medal game. Members of Team Ontario Blue, it would mark the first time that two Ontario-based teams would face off against each other for the gold medal. Pozzebon reflects on the experience,

“It was fun to be able to play against Sam. Off the ice we are friends, but on the ice that day, we were not (laughs). We were competitive against each other. I did not want her to beat me in any one-on-one. It was fun to play against one of your teammates.”

After earning a silver medal in Buffalo, motivation is very high to win gold at the Canada Winter Games. In addition, Ontario is looking to avenge its silver medal from the 2011 edition of the Canada Winter Games, which saw Alberta backstop Emerance Maschmeyer make 33 saves in a 3-2 win.

An additional motivational factor is the proud legacy of players that have donned the Ontario jersey since women’s hockey was first contested at the 1991 Games. Of note, past players for Team Ontario at the Canada Winter Games have included the likes of Cassie Campbell, Meghan Agosta, Natalie Spooner, Rebecca Johnston, Haley Irwin and Erin Ambrose.

Cogan, Eastwood and Pozzebon are proud to follow in their footsteps. Such a historic level of talent represents more than just competing at another elite level of play for the 2015 edition of Team Ontario, it is about continuing a proud legacy. Cogan shares her sense of excitement, while paying homage to those that came before

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is only once every four years, like a mini-Olympics. Every team from Ontario (representing numerous sports) will be there. I am excited to be born in 1997 so that I can participate in this.

It should fun and different at the same time, but amazing. My main goal is to make Team Canada at the Olympic level. Seeing the girls that have gone through the program (Team Ontario) that have made it, to be part of that future would be exciting.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indiciated”

Logo obtained from: http://www.canadagames2015.ca/

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