Danielle Hennig (left) has 151 careers caps with the Canadian women’s field hockey program, while Natalie Sourisseau has 109.                                 -Image: Jan Huckendubler/PAHF

Danielle Hennig (left) has 151 careers caps with the Canadian women’s field hockey program, while Natalie Sourisseau has 109. -Image: Jan Huckendubler/PAHF

Kelowna duo staples of Canadian field hockey

Dani Hennig and Natalie Sourisseau, with 260 combined caps, helps Canada to fifth in Australia

With more than 250 international caps between them, Danielle Hennig and Natalie Sourisseau are two of the unmistakable faces of Canada’s national women’s field hockey program.

The Kelowna products and KSS grads played their customary key roles once again this month, in Canada’s history-making fifth-place showing at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.

It was Canada’s best ever placing at the games. Still, Hennig, Sourisseau and their teammates were left wanting a little bit more.

A tight 1-0 loss to Australia and a 0-0 draw with New Zealand in pool play had Canada going toe-to-toe with the eventual silver and gold medalists.

“We would have liked to have done better, but we’re still pretty happy,” said Hennig, 27. “We were definitely shooting for the top four, even a medal, we felt going in that we had a shot at it.

“Those two games, against New Zealand and Australia, they were both within our grasp. It’s too bad, but we still can walk away knowing we had a good performance.”

Sourisseau, who scored once in a 3-1 win over South Africa to clinch fifth place, said the Commonwealth Games didn’t provide the desired result but perhaps served as glimpse of what’s to come for the Canadian women.

“Despite it being our best finish ever, I got the feeling that the team as a whole was left a little bit unsatisfied,” said Sourisseau. “While we played some great games, we were so close to being able to make a semi-final and I could feel that we were hungry to do better.

“That attitude and outlook is exciting to me and is something that I think will fuel us as a team as we move forward.”

Hennig, who has 151 career caps—the sixth most in the history of Canadian women’s program—is in her eighth year with the national team. Sourisseau, 25, now at 109 caps, made her international debut with Canada in 2011.

As teammates, their finest moment came in 2015 when Canada won a bronze medal at the Pan American Games in Toronto.

The program had a disappointing World League performance in 2016-17, but with the hiring of new coach Giles Bonnet this year, the Canadian women are back on an upward trend in 2018.

In January, Canada won a head-to-head series against Chile, then executed a rare defeat of the U.S. in a four-game set in February.

Hennig likes the where the program is headed in 2018 and beyond.

“There’s been some progression, I’d say we’re on an upward trajectory right now,” said Hennig, one of the co-captains on the Canadian team. “I think (Giles’) style of coaching fits our personnel, our technical game is at the level where we can compete with any team. It’s a more aggressive approach and seems to be working for us.”

With plenty of potential on the world’s 11th-ranked Canadian team and a blend of experience and youth, neither Hennig nor Sourisseau have any plans to go anywhere, particularly with the next Olympic Games in Tokyo just two years away.

Hennig and Sourisseau—both former national teammates of Kelowna’s Abi Raye—have been through the Olympic cycle twice, only to be disappointed both times.

Sourisseau said the prospects of making it to Japan in 2020 is one of many reasons she continues to have a passion for the game.

“As a program we are aiming to qualify for Tokyo and while this is ambitious, I believe we have the potential to do so, especially under our new coach,” said Sourisseau, who goes to university and plays professionally in Holland. “And while the Olympics are a motivator, they are not the only reason I play for Canada as there is absolutely no guarantee that it will happen.

“In my time on the team I have already been through two cycles where we believed we could, but then failed to qualify,” she added. “The extreme frustration and pain experienced throughout those experiences is also a huge motivator for me as I continue to play.”

Sourisseau, Hennig and their Canadian teammates will begin their journey towards Olympic qualification at the Hockey Series Open, a five-team event in Salamanca, Mexico from June 5 to 10.

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