Two Durham Region athletes helped deliver medals for Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, while two others flashed promise of doing likewise down the road.
Pickering’s Jennifer Wakefield won a silver medal with the women’s hockey team, and Bowmanville’s Chris Kelly a bronze with the men’s team, both contributing to a record medal haul of 29 for Canada, surpassing the previous best of 26 won at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Oshawa speed skater Ben Donnelly, just 21, and Whitby bobsledder Cam Stones, 26, didn’t reach the podium, but both seem likely to be back four years from now, at the 2022 Beijing Games, in a better position to do so.
Kelly scored twice, including the winner, as the Canadian men’s hockey team captured bronze with a 6-4 win over the Czech Republic Feb. 24.
Kelly, the 37-year-old captain of the Canadian team and Stanley Cup winner with the Boston Bruins in 2011, earned himself a National Hockey League contract with the Anaheim Ducks at the conclusion of the Games. He had been on an American Hockey League contract with the Belleville Senators this season, after playing all 82 games with the Ottawa Senators last season.
Wakefield, 28, was looking for a second straight gold medal after winning in Sochi, but settled for silver after a 3-2 shootout loss to the United States Feb. 22.
Wakefield, who scored twice in a 5-0 semifinal win over the Olympic athletes from Russia, had earlier signed a contract with Lulea of the Swedish women’s hockey league and will join that team along with Canadian teammate Meaghan Mikkelson. She has spent the past three seasons in Sweden with Linkoping.
Canada went into the Pyeongchang Games having won four straight gold medals, after finishing second to the U.S. at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, the first for women’s hockey.
Stones made his Olympic debut in the four-man bobsleigh event, finishing in 12th place among 20 teams with pilot Nick Poloniato’s crew.
Justin Kripps, who won a gold medal in the two-man event, finished sixth in the four-man, while a third Canadian team, piloted by Chris Spring, was 16th.
Donnelly helped Canada’s long track pursuit team defeat the U.S. in a D final Feb. 21, and was 31st in the 1,500-metre individual race earlier in the Olympics. The pursuit team was thought to be a medal threat after winning a World Cup event this season, but failed to reach the semifinals in a race that did not include Donnelly.
Durham Region’s fifth athlete at the Games, Whitby’s Eric Regan, was part of history playing for the host South Korean hockey team, its first Olympic appearance. After a 5-2 loss to Finland in the quarter-finals, the players circled the ice with the country’s flags and bowed to head coach Jim Paek — like Regan a former Oshawa General — who was brought to tears.