BRIDGETOWN, NS – When Canada defeated the United States 3-2 in overtime to win the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship in Obihiro, Japan Jan. 13, Bridgetown’s Maryelle Hannam was there.
The former Bridgetown skater is Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 video coach. Along with assistant coach Kori Cheverie of New Glasgow, and Amie Lee of Halifax as the team’s therapist, the gold-winning team had a decidedly Nova Scotian flavour.
Ontario’s Maddi Wheeler knocked home her own rebound 1:34 minutes into overtime to give Canada its fifth world title and its first since 2014.
Hannam’s part in the tournament was to help coaches, including head coach Howie Draper of Alberta, study plays and opponents’ strategies in the games to get up to speed quickly on teams they’ve never met before.
“I’m with a computer sort of coding as the plays happen,” she said of the real-time video of the games. “For example if there’s a shot on goal, I hit a button that indicates a shot on goal. Afterwards I put the games on the bench coach’s computer. Then they can sort of work through certain events that they want to review. If they want to look at all the shots that the other team had on our net they can separate and sort them. It’s easier just to look through those.”
If they want to look at penalties or goals against or break-outs, or things like that, Hannam has that all marked for them.
“The coaches look through them and pick out the ones they want the players to review,” she said. “A big part of it was scouting the other teams so we could break down those events as well and then we’d be able to review the opponents – breakouts and things like that.”
She calls it a good teaching tool.
There weren’t a lot of hockey options for Hannam when she was younger. And no high school hockey.
“I always figure skated until I was 12 or 13 years old, and then there was a bunch of ladies like Margie Chipman, Marylou Hicks -- we all started getting together in Bridgetown and in Greenwood and started playing,” Hannam recalled. “We sort of developed our own ladies team. I was obviously one of the younger members. Then I went to university and played hockey there.”
While she can skate with the best of them, Hannam’s coaching abilities became evident.
“I coached Hockey New Brunswick from 2007 right up to the Canada Games in 2015, and then I started getting involved with Hockey Canada I think in 2013 or 2014 primarily as a video coach,” she said. “It was good that way because it sort of allowed me to see the game in a different way. It helped me as a coach.”
She’s stuck with the video coaching, something she said she really enjoys. “It’s really grown. It’s great.”
How was Japan?
“It was different. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the people would bend over backwards to accommodate you or help you. They were very, very nice,” she said. “It was very clean. Very welcoming.”
The biggest difference was the huge time change with Japan ahead by 13 hours.
“We’re getting up in the morning when people back home are getting ready to go to bed,” she said. But they obviously overcame that obstacle with a Jan. 8 5-1 win over Russia and a 4-3 win over Russia on Jan. 12.
While hockey may not be Japan’s national game, Hannam said the rink was pretty full every time they played.
“They really certainly took us under their wing. They were great hosts,” she said. “When they weren’t playing they would wear the others countries’ jerseys and they were very supportive. It was neat.”
Stick with it
Hannam now lives in Saint John, N.B. It’s different now, but she remembers growing up in the Valley and looking for ice time.
“I always tell the kids to stick with it. I mean there’s so many opportunities and girls can obviously take different routes than guys,” she said. “You can get your education while playing hockey, like at university.”
She said setting goals is key.
“Coaching’s different, but I know when I first started coaching I set goals – at the time they were more like dreams – and they kind of came true,” she said. “Stick with it, work hard. With the opportunities that are there now it doesn’t matter where you’re from or where you play. The opportunities are endless really. If you want them you kind of go after them.”
She’s back from Japan, but her coaching duties are far from over.
“I coach the Saint John Vitos, it’s a boys Midget triple A team,” she said. “Kind of like the New Brunswick equivalent of the Valley Wildcats Midget AAA.”
She gets back to Annapolis County whenever she can.
“I love coming back home and playing the Fireball, the tournaments that are there in Lawrencetown,” she said. “I like to try to come back as much as I can to play in those.”