The look on Jenelle Kohanchuk’s face, when reminded by a reporter that the Toronto Furies All-Star forward was cut from Team Canada’s most recent women’s hockey Olympic team, seems to suggest “Why you gotta bring that up?”
But the Winnipeg native laughs just seconds later, not outwardly perturbed and instead displaying her resolve to hopefully represent her country when the Winter Games are held in South Korea in a year’s time.
“Pyeongchang is on my mind, and it’s what I want, essentially in the end, and I keep fighting for it,” Kohanchuk said. “Being let go from Sochi makes me want it even more and more.”
Indeed the past three years have presented a pair of devastating setbacks for Kohanchuk. In November 2013, she was one of three players trimmed from the roster that went on to win Canada’s fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal in Russia.
Then, after leading the Furies in scoring in 2014-15, Kohanchuk missed the following campaign in its entirety with a sports hernia. The injury resulted in an 18-month absence from the game.
The road to recovery was arduous. Kohanchuk had been undergoing three times a week – receiving platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections – before a Toronto doctor who specializes in dynamic ultrasound finally detected the hernia. After undergoing surgery in Montreal, Kohanchuk began her rehabilitation process, undeterred from her Olympic dream.
Finally she returned to action for the 2016-17 season and played in all but two of Toronto’s 24 games, registering three goals and ten points. In November, Kohanchuk played in all four of Team Canada’s outings at the 4 Nations Cup in Finland en route to a silver medal.
Kohanchuk, 26, says she has finally found her stride after being away from the game for so long. Her selection to the CWHL All-Star game validates the self-assessment. For good measure, Kohanchuk scored a pair of third period goals to help boost her squad Team White to a 9-5 victory over Team Blue.
Her next challenges are of course the Clarkson Cup playoffs, followed by a possible invitation to the Women’s World Championship in Plymouth, Michigan.
Motivated by the passion to overcome her previous struggles, Kohanchuk perseveres.
“It’s always a battle to get one of those (Olympic) spots because there are so many great players, and I feel like there’s a pool of maybe 35 of us left within it,” she said.
“So it’s a bit of a fight, and it’s one of those things that pushes you every single day.”
In 2016, Rob wrote “Hockey’s Enforcers: A Dying Breed”, now available at Chapters and Indigo stores everywhere.