Still with the dream

Kevin Adshade
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Blayre Turnbull plying her hockey skills in Calgary

CALGARY – Get up, work out, hockey practice, work, go home, sleep. In that order.

 

Blayre Turnbull playing a game against the Montreal Les Canadiennes (photo courtesy Joseph Leung, Calgary Inferno).

 

Those are what most days of the week are like for Blayre Turnbull, the Stellarton native in her rookie season with the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL).

”Honestly, I don’t have any spare time,” she says in a telephone interview from Calgary.

A former University of Wisconsin Badger who has twice played for Team Canada at the annual Four Nations Cup women’s tournament, the 22-year-old Turnbull has five goals and eight assists in 18 games with the Calgary Inferno, who own a 14-4-2 record, second-best in the five-team CWHL.

The team plays its home games at WinSport Park, a multi-rink facility in Calgary; their home rink holds 250 spectators and is filled for most games (tickets are $15 apiece).

“Us and Montreal have the best fan bases in the league,” Turnbull says. “We’re getting more popular now on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.”

The cities of Montreal, Toronto, Boston and Brampton also have teams in the CWHL.

When the Inferno makes a weekend road trip, they travel for several hours on the day of the game, play that night and again the next day against the same team, before flying home.

“Most people have full-time jobs and can’t miss work on Fridays,” she says.

“The travelling is not ideal, but I think we’ve all adjusted to it by now.”

Players in the nine-year-old league do not get paid – although the CWHL says there will come a day when they will be financially compensated for their efforts. “The league hopes that by 2017 or 2018, that they’ll have enough funds where they can start paying the players,” Turnbull said.

While they wait for that, many of the players hold down jobs to pay the bills. Turnbull, who is living with friends of her family in Calgary, works part time doing administrative duties at a gym.

The league begins playoffs in early March, and while that is a priority, Turnbull also will be waiting to see whether she made Canada’s national women’s hockey team, which will compete at the world championships in Kamloops, B.C., next month.

She attended the national camp in January, which was held in Toronto, and will find out in early March whether she made the final cut. It would be a big moment for Turnbull if it happens.

“I thought I played consistently well the entire camp. I’m hoping I make it.”

Organizations: CWHL, Canadian Women, Hockey League University of Wisconsin Badger Team Canada

Geographic location: Calgary, Montreal, Stellarton Toronto WinSport Park Boston Brampton Canada Kamloops

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