11/13/2013 02:52 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Cut from Canada's 2014 Olympic women's hockey team, Kohanchuk looks to 2018

CALGARY - Jenelle Kohanchuk knew she was a long shot to be on the Canadian women's Olympic hockey team, but that didn't take the sting out of getting released.

The 23-year-old forward from Winnipeg was one of the first three players cut from the 27 trying out for the team in Calgary. Defencemen Tessa Bonhomme of Sudbury, Ont., and Brigette Lacquette of Waterhen, Man., were also released.

Kohanchuk had never played for the national team when she arrived in Calgary in August. She was the first forward cut after playing her eighth international game for Canada.

"I was told I was on the bubble from the get-go in May," Kohanchuk said Wednesday. "I was the only forward who had never played on a Four Nations or world championship team. I knew it was going to be a challenge for me this year to make the team.

"Playing for the Olympic team and wearing the Maple Leaf and representing my country is something I've wanted my entire life. It's definitely something that's hard to accept the fact that I won't be doing that. Hopefully 2018 will give me another opportunity."

Head coach Dan Church will release another defencemen and two forwards before he names his 21-player Olympic roster in December. The Canadian team was in Grande Prairie, Alta., on Wednesday for a game against an Alberta Midget Hockey League team there.

Kohanchuk played in her first Four Nations Cup last week in Lake Placid, N.Y. The five-foot-seven, 145-pound forward scored twice in Canada's 6-3 win over Finland in the final.

She had an assist in two exhibition wins over the U.S. women. Kohanchuk also had a goal and an assist in 10 games against AMHL teams.

"Every single day, day in and day out, was a challenge for me," she said. "This year, I've never worked so hard in my life.

"Truly, what I gained from this was so many friendships and a whole new family. This experience gives you a whole new perspective on not just life, but friendships. It just shows how powerful the Canadian women's hockey team is. There's so much talent and everyone should know how amazing every single one of the girls on the team is."

Bonhomme helped Canada win Olympic gold at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C. She told The Canadian Press after she was released Tuesday that winning that gold didn't guarantee her a spot on the 2014 squad.

"I don't think it matters who you are, you're always surprised when a cut is made," Bonhomme said. "I've never counted my chickens before they were hatched and I always knew I would have to earn my spot no matter what."

Kohanchuk said she was too upset to talk after she was cut Tuesday. Lacquette, 21, did not respond to an interview request from The Canadian Press.

Kohanchuk headed to Florida with friends Wednesday for a vacation. She completed her science degree at Boston University in May.

She hopes to play in the Canadian Women's Hockey League this season, but no team has her rights because she didn't declare herself available in this year's CWHL draft.

"It's going to be complicated," Kohanchuk said. "Tessa has been helping me with that."

The Canadian team will attempt to win a fourth straight gold medal in women's hockey in Sochi, Russia, in February.

"It'll be hard to watch because I'm going to want to be there so bad," Kohanchuk said. "It's knowing I'll be watching them on TV and I was just a thread away from making the team, being centralized with them.

"But I'm still going to feel so proud of them. They're all my best friends. I'm going to be happy for them and cheering them on completely."