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Tessa Bonhomme: Swiss fans show strong support for women's game

Tessa Bonhomme played at the Olympics and is now representing Team Canada at the World Championship. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

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Tessa Bonhomme played at the Olympics and is now representing Team Canada at the World Championship. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

By Tessa Bonhomme

The 2011 Women’s World Championship is being held in Zurich and Winterthur, Switzerland. Because we are the No. 2 seed this year (we lost in 2009) our games are being played in Winterthur, Switzerland’s sixth-largest city. 
   
Our first game was Saturday night against the Swiss and most of us weren’t too sure if there was even going to be a crowd. While hockey is loved here, not many can say they’ve watched a women’s game live.
   
Upon arrival, the rink parking lot was packed. We were all very excited, until we noticed there was an ultimate frisbee tournament going on and chances were all the people who parked in the arena lot were there for that event. To our surprise, as we were warming up a crowd of people swarmed the track where we were all preparing for our game.

As our warmups came to an end, the front doors were opened to let the fans enter. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw each and every person in that crowd rush for the door. The more than 2,800 people in attendance actually broke a record for the largest crowd to watch a women’s hockey game in Swiss history. It made all of us so happy and proud to see all of these people support the sport we love and stay until the final buzzer rang at the end of the game. The Swiss team captain thanked the fans over a microphone and everybody stayed to listen to what she had to say.
   
While women’s hockey is criticized for being a lopsided, two-team sport, all of us who play have faith other countries will grow and develop their teams. Saturday night was a perfect example of what is changing and developing in our sport. While the 12-0 score was one sided, the fact so many came out to support and watch their home squad is already a step in the right direction. Who knows, maybe the next Marie-Philip Poulin was sitting in the stands watching. 
   
We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves in Winterthur. The people are so friendly and the city is so clean. We have been taking advantage of the warm weather and active lifestyle here, working on our tans (yeah, right) in what is known as ‘Bike City.’

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(Editor’s Note: Team Canada beat Finland 2-0 Tuesday in their final round-robin game)

The semifinal and final games of the tournament will be on TSN and I hope you’re all planning on tuning in. I think you’ll all enjoy what we have to offer.

Tessa Bonhomme is a member of Team Canada and was also the first draft pick ever in the Canadian Women's Hockey League.

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