What occurred on March 2 in Red Deer, Alta., was so special that it called
for a commemorative photo.
Marin and Delaney Collins – all of whom have extensive experience as
players and coaches in Canada’s National Women’s Program – posed
outside Servus Arena to celebrate leading their respective provinces to
medals at the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
MacLeod’s Team Alberta won gold on home ice with a 2-1 win over Marin’s
Team Quebec. Earlier in the day, Collins led Team British Columbia to a 5-4
win over Team Ontario to capture bronze. It marked the first time at the
Canada Games or National Women’s Under-18 Championship that all three
medal-winning coaches were female.
Sharing the ice with MacLeod and Marin during the medal ceremony is a
memory Collins will cherish for a long time.
”I believe we all value each other so much that it was a proud moment for
me to have the three medals – gold, silver and bronze – be [awarded to]
female head coaches who have worked for Hockey Canada.”
The ties run deep between the three: Collins and MacLeod played together at
the IIHF World Women’s Championship; MacLeod and Marin shared the bench
with Canada’s National Women’s Development Team in 2017-18; and Collins and
Marin were assistant coaches for Canada at the 2015 IIHF U18 Women’s World
All hired about a year before the puck dropped, Collins, MacLeod and Marin
had a clear conviction on what it would take to win in Red Deer. The
biggest task for each of them was compiling a cohesive 20-player team that
would realize the golden goal.
MacLeod and her coaching staff knew Alberta needed to be the hardest
“We adopted that sort of approach and mentality to everything we did,” says
the two-time Olympic gold medallist, who also leads the female Midget prep
team at the Edge School in Calgary. “We had a slogan that said, ‘Team
culture is hard work and hard work is team culture.’”
The disciplined style of play was evident during the whole tournament.
Composure was another element to Alberta’s success. The players did not
allow losing two of their first three games to rattle them. They just kept
perfecting their process, and that work paid off with playoff wins over
B.C. (2-1 in overtime in the semifinals) and Quebec.
Quebec cruised to a 5-0 record to reach the gold medal game. Marin, who
coaches the women’s team at John Abbott College in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue,
Que., emphasized filling the roster with resilient players. Her
decision-making paid off with rallies in the first two games.
“When you’re down 2-0 seven minutes into a game, it is tough to have the
resiliency to stand up and fight, and I thought our girls showed great
character by coming back in those games after tough early starts,” she
Quebec passed its biggest test by withstanding 38 shots from Team Ontario
to earn a 1-0 semifinal win.
Collins, head coach of the Fraser Valley Rush, a female Midget AAA side in
B.C., put a premium on identifying players with self-compassion, which is
the ability to not let mistakes keep you down.
“We definitely want girls that are hard-working and mentally are able to
show a lot of compassion for themselves,” Collins says. “At the end of the
day, it is a game of mistakes. So, how do you respond after making a
mistake? We are looking for athletes who are open to learning and are not
too critical about the mistakes in the game.”
This approach inspired her squad to play an exciting style of hockey
dictated by speed and creativity, which earned the province its first
women’s hockey medal at the Canada Games since 1991.
The weeks following the Games have afforded MacLeod with time to think
about the significance of three female head coaches sweeping the podium.
She says a moment like this could be impactful.
“Hopefully, if we are doing our job correctly, the players we are working
with today may, in 10-15 years from now, want to coach that team.”
The three award-winning bench bosses all credit Hockey Canada for
empowering them to believe they can be successful coaches, and to provide
different opportunities along the way.
“It helps us as a coach and even just as a person in the world,” Marin
says. “I think Hockey Canada is doing a tremendous job.”
MacLeod says this support is particularly instrumental in helping women in
their early years of coaching.
“I have been fortunate in my career to have tremendous mentorship from all
sorts of people, and I think building that up will encourage it to continue
to occur, and hopefully then if young coaches face a little bit of
adversity early in their career, they can manage it and grow from it.”
Hockey Canada is passionate about creating more opportunities for women
through its We are Coaches all-female coaching certification events. The
initiative strives to provide women with the resources, mentorship and
network to succeed. The program also seeks to remove the barriers
preventing women from pursuing the coaching profession.
Anyone interested in participating in or hosting an all-female coaching
clinic can reach out to the
coaching contact who works for their Hockey Canada member branch.