Team Canada scores points with visit to children at Stollery Hospital

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Team Canada scores points with visit to children at Stollery Hospital

Smiles from the young patients started lighting up the room as soon as hockey players from Canada's national women's team walked into the Stollery Children's Hospital on Friday morning. 

Bethany Gall's seven-year-old son Ethan had an emergency appendectomy on Monday, and the morning hang-out and autograph session with the players added some excitement to his recovery.

"The nurses, the doctors, the staff, everyone here is just awesome, " said Gall, looking on as her son did some colouring with some of the players. 

"But this just makes it a little bit more fun and special, and he'll have some cool memories from his time here." 

It's special for the players, too.  

"It's a great time to give back to the community, to share your experiences with the kids ... (and) listen to them. I think that's very important, too," said Lauriane Rougeau, who plays defence for the team.

The visit also turned into a welcome break from their daily practices and what has turned into a rigorous schedule.

The women's team is gearing up for its big match against Team USA, to be held Dec. 17 at Rogers Place. That match is essentially a tune-up for the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

In the meantime, they are playing in the Esso Series, which involves playing 24 games against Midget AAA teams across Canada. 

On Thursday night, they played the Sherwood Park Kings, losing 5 to 3. On Saturday, they face the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs at the Centrium in the central Alberta city.

"The Alberta midget boys' loop is an important part of our preparation for our Olympics, " said team veteran Brianne Jenner. 

But, the forward added, "the fact that we have a game against the U.S. in Edmonton is really exciting for us."