Golden Christmas for UBC T'Birds' women's hockey captain
As she returns to her role as captain of the UBC Thunderbirds this weekend, Christi Capozzi will be firmly focused on the remainder of the Canada West women's hockey season.
But for a few days over the Christmas holidays, the 22-year-old from Kelowna had a chance to savour her first medal in international competition.
Capozzi and her Canadian teammates dominated from start to finish at the World University Games in Trentino, Italy to secure the gold medal in women's hockey.
"It was an amazing experience, I was so thankful to be given the opportunity to represent my university and my country," said Capozzi. "I was so excited to be able to go to Italy, to travel to another country…to win the gold medal for Canada was really a nice bonus."
Capozzi and the Canadians steamrolled through the tournament, outscoring their opponents 77-2, including 5-0 over the Russians in the gold medal final on Dec. 20.
Despite the ease with which they won the championship, Capozzi said it did nothing to detract from the thrill of winning a world title.
"In my opinion it didn't matter because we just went out there and played to the level we were capable of, and the other teams couldn't match it," she said. "We showcased our best players and we should be proud of that. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Capozzi, who is of Italian heritage, also enjoyed her experiences away from the rink during the tournament.
"I drank a lot of coffee and ate a lot of pizza," laughed Capozzi, who was provided with much needed financial assistance for the trip by Grant Cobb, Gail Plecash and Pioneer Coffee. "The team bus driver called me 'Italian girl' so that was kind of cool, too. It was a really fun experience."
In her fifth and final year of university hockey, Capozzi's attention is now back on the Canada West season with the goal of leading the T'Birds to their second straight conference title.
UBC (12-3-1) is in a good position in top spot in Canada West but Capozzi knows there's plenty of work to be done and obstacles in the way.
"The league is super tight right now and there are a lot of really good teams," she said. "We're doing really well right now, so hopefully we can keep it up and take another shot at the title."
Two other Kelowna products, Sarah Casorso and Stephanie Schaupmeyer, are teammates of Capozzi's with the Thunderbirds.
This Friday and Saturday, UBC visits the Calgary Dinos.