Dan Church

Kevin Dineen

Kevin Dineen hired as Canada women’s hockey coach

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Hockey Canada turned to former NHL coach and player Kevin Dineen to coach it’s women’s hockey team, less than a week after Dan Church resigned the post.

Dineen, 50, coached the Florida Panthers from 2011-13. He played 19 NHL season among five teams. He is a Quebec native and a 1984 Winter Olympian.

“We’re very excited that Kevin will join the coaching staff of Canada’s National Women’s Team and bring his unique perspective to the dressing room,” said Hockey Canada COO Scott Smith, according to Hockey Canada. “Kevin has had success in both the AHL and NHL, and we’re looking forward to him being a part of the staff for the final push towards Sochi.”

The Canadian women are considered co-favorites with the U.S. for gold at the Sochi Olympics. Canada has won the last three Olympic titles, but the U.S. beat Canada in Ottawa for the World Championship in April.

Canada beat the U.S. three straight times to open their fall/winter pre-Olympic series. Church resigned Thursday, hours before their fourth game, saying he felt others lacked confidence in his coaching ability but not going into more detail.

Dineen is the first man to coach the Canadian women’s Olympic team, following Shannon Miller in 1998, Daniele Sauvageau in 2002 and Melody Davidson in 2006 and 2010.

“This is a critical time for Canada’s National Women’s Team with the start of the Olympics less than two months away, and we feel Kevin is a terrific fit with our staff as we get ready for Sochi,” said Davidson, who is now a Hockey Canada general manager. “His experience, both on the ice and behind the bench, will be invaluable over the coming weeks.”

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U.S. women’s hockey team snaps skid against Canada (video)

Jessie Vetter
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The U.S. women’s hockey team beat Canada for the first time in the run up to the Olympics, hours after Canada’s coach resigned Thursday.

Five different Americans scored in a 5-1 victory in Calgary, Alberta. The world champion U.S. improved to 1-3 against the three-time reigning Olympic champion with three more games to go against its rival.

“It was one good test,” U.S. coach Katey Stone said. “We’re certainly a much better team than we were in November. The hard work that we’ve been putting in, in training camp, is starting to pay off a little bit.”

Alex Carpenter, Brianna Decker, Hilary KnightMeghan Duggan and Megan Bozek scored. No. 1 goalie Jessie Vetter stopped 15 of 16 shots.

The U.S. led 1-0 after Carpenter’s goal but opened it up in the second, outshooting Canada 12-5 with Decker’s tally, and piled on the final three goals in the final 20 minutes. They did it against Canada’s top goalie, Shannon Szabados, who stopped 24 of 28 shots.

“The second and third period, it was a dominating effort,” Stone said. “If anything, it’s going to make these kids believe they can do it all the time.”

Canada head coach Dan Church resigned earlier in the day for “personal reasons,” adding he felt others lacked confidence in his coaching.

The team had a tough time keeping its focus on the ice Thursday night, co-interim coach Danielle Goyette said.

“It was an emotional day,” Canadian forward Caroline Ouellette said, according to The Canadian Press. “A lot of different feelings around the team.

“I suspect that’s always the case when a head coach steps down in the NHL. It’s just never happened to us. I think we have some people who are feeling mixed emotions.”

Canada’s stalwart, Hayley Wickenheiser, suffered a lower-body injury in her second shift and sat out the final two periods. The team is hopeful it’s a day-to-day injury for the greatest player in Olympic women’s hockey history.

The win provided a boost for the U.S., which had not only lost to Canada three times, but also 3-1 to Finland in the Four Nations Cup on Nov. 8. It marked its first regulation loss ever to a nation other then Canada at an Olympics, World Championships or Four Nations Cup.

“Maybe we were cruising a little bit having three successful games against them,” Ouellette said, according to The Canadian Press. “They took what made us successful in the past games and shoved it at us. They were better on the forecheck and quicker on loose pucks.”

The teams will next play Dec. 20 in Grand Forks, N.D.

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Dan Church resigns as Canada women’s hockey coach

Hayley Wickenheiser, Charline Labonte, Lauriane Rougeau, Rebecca Johnston
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Canada’s women’s hockey team is on a three-game winning streak against the U.S., will play the Americans on Thursday night and are preparing for the Olympics in two months.

Now, the three-time reigning Olympic champions must replace their head coach.

Dan Church abruptly resigned for personal reasons Thursday, according to Hockey Canada. Assistants Danielle Goyette and Lisa Haley will be interim co-coaches. Church later said he resigned because he felt others lacked confidence in him.

“If there isn’t confidence in what I’m doing, I need to step aside and let the team move on,” Church said, according to The Canadian Press. “I’m heartbroken, to be honest, about the whole situation.”

Church said Hockey Canada did not try to persuade him to stay on.

“Just discussions I’d had over the last few days made that apparent, in some meetings I’d had with leadership,” Church, 40, told The Canadian Press. “I think it was just difference of opinion on the direction we were headed. In the end, I just decided if I’m getting in the way of where the team needs to go, I need to step aside and let them continue on in the process.”

Canada is playing the U.S. in Calgary, Alberta, later Thursday night.

“I would like to thank Hockey Canada for the opportunity to reach my goal of coaching and winning gold at the international level,” Church said, according to a press release. “I wish the players and staff all the best going forward. I have understood from the beginning of this process that winning gold in Sochi was this team’s only focus. I believe that stepping aside for personal reasons at this time will help the team achieve its goal.”

Church guided Canada to the 2012 World Championship and silver at this year’s World Championship in Ottawa.

On Wednesday, the Canadian Press reported Goyette and Haley ran practice as Church tended to “a personal matter,” according to Hockey Canada.

“We understand that this was a very difficult decision for Dan,” Hockey Canada women’s national teams general manager Melody Davidson said. “We are certainly very appreciative that he came to this conclusion with the best interests of the team in mind.”

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