Hockey February 9, 2018


Hayley Wickenheiser. Jayna Hefford. Caroline Ouellette.

The Big Three.

They are, quite literally, the gold standard when it comes to Canada’s
National Women’s Team; all three won four Olympic gold medals (the only
three to feature on the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 editions of Team Canada),
and they rank 1-2-3 in all-time scoring with the national side.

Meghan Agosta is ready to make it a Fab Four.

While she may need another few years to match their offensive exploits (she
currently ranks No. 6 in career points), Agosta is on the verge of joining
Wickenheiser, Hefford and Ouellette as the only players in history – men or
women – with a quartet of Olympic gold medals.

But the journey to PyeongChang has been much different than the ones that
led to a Turin triumph in 2006, Vancouver victory in 2010 and Sochi success
in 2014.

Agosta began taking steps towards life after hockey four years ago, chasing
her lifelong dream of a career in law enforcement. Shortly after winning
gold in Russia, the Ruthven, Ont., native joined the Vancouver Police
Department, stepping away from the game for a year to attend the police
academy.

“This career just kind of fell into my lap,” she says. “It was just a
matter of when and where, and I just met the right people. They said ‘Why
don’t you apply?’ so I applied, and within three months I was hired. My
biggest fear was having to come to Hockey Canada and say ‘Hey, I need to
take a year off to pursue my career in policing,’ and [Team Canada general
manager] Mel [Davidson] and Hockey Canada were so supportive.”

The move to B.C. presented a host of hockey challenges for Agosta. With no
CWHL team in Vancouver, she was forced to find alternatives to keep her at
the top of her game, including skating with the Valley West Hawks of the
BCMML, working with a skills coach at UBC, and playing games with the VPD
staff team, the Centurions.

Agosta returned to Team Canada in the fall of 2015 and played at the IIHF
Women’s World Championship in 2016 and 2017 as part of a juggling act
between her on- and off-ice careers.

The Olympics, though, are not something to be juggled, and Agosta – with
the blessing and full support of the VPD – took a 12-month leave to
relocate to Calgary and fully dedicate herself to the centralization
process.

“Having to take a year off to move here, live here and be centralized with
the girls, I think it was great timing for me to be able to say goodbye to
policing for a year and really focus, and be around the girls on a
day-to-day basis,” she says. “I love training with them every day, being
able to push each other, and I feel like I have gotten a lot stronger off
the ice, and a lot better on the ice.”

That’s saying a lot for someone whose career totals include 83 goals and
171 points in 171 games.

But the numbers are just part of the story for Agosta, who has embraced her
veteran status. With three Olympics and almost 14 years of international
experience, the 30-year-old (she turns 31 on Feb. 12, the day after Canada
opens its Olympic schedule) is a sounding board for the young players, and
she is relishing the opportunity to mentor the next generation.

“Right now my focus is being here and focusing on how good I can be as a
leader,” she says, “bringing out the best in everybody and taking the
younger ones under my wing, making them comfortable and confident.”

The experience works both ways. As much as young players like Emily Clark,
Laura Stacey and Jill Saulnier are benefitting, Agosta herself is better
because of what she has been through with Team Canada, and with the VPD.

“I think with policing you learn that no matter how hard it is you can come
out on top. Going into boot camp and centralization, physically it has been
draining, but I felt like boot camp, mentally, was one of the easiest I
have been to,” Agosta says. “Physically, ya, I was tired, but you just know
you have more to give. Going and working the streets, doing shift work, you
can never be tired. In both careers, I’ve kept the mentality of ‘I’ve been
here, I’ve done that, I’m trained for this and I’m going to come out on
top.’”

But for how much longer? With the full-time schedule of a police officer,
and the aforementioned challenges faced in Vancouver, few would blame
Agosta if she skated off into the sunset with her gold medals.

Instead of serving as a swan song, though, this season has shown her that
it’s not quite time to say goodbye.

“I still have so much more to give, and after this year, with the team we
have and the bond we have, to see how much I have improved as an
individual, and to see where I am at, I can’t see hanging up the skates
anytime soon.

“If you’re asking me if I’m going to retire after this Olympics, it’s a
no.”

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