Stellarton’s Blayre Turnbull hasn’t taken a break from hockey this summer, but the University of Wisconsin-Madison women’s hockey player said she’s fine with that.
“Last summer I came home after playing at prep school, but went back early to Wisconsin to train with the team,” she said. “Mostly all of our team stays so it’s a good time to mould and get ready for the season to start. Also there’s no ice at home so I wouldn’t get the option to get out as much as I do.”
Having finished her first season with the University of Wisconsin-Madison in April, she said the biggest difference between prep school and university level hockey was the pace of the game.
“Everything happens a lot quicker and the girls are a lot more skilled,” she said. “I definitely had to adjust the speed I make decisions at because before you have the puck you need to know where you’re going to put it right away.”
After playing mainly as the third-line centre, on the powerplay and penalty kill last season, this summer she is working towards a larger role with the team come September.
With three of the top four forwards not returning there are spots to fill. She expects she will move into the second-line centre role, as the top centre on the team won the award for the best player in female college hockey.
“I’ll have to step up my offensive game this year because last year I was in more of a defensive forward role,” said Turnbull. “This year I see my myself in a second-line role, with Brianna Decker who won the Patty Kazmaier Award being the top forward, so I don’t think I’ll be placed ahead of her in the lineup.”
“Hopefully I’ll be able to get my offensive game back and score some goals.”
Some athletes find taking a break from their respective sports in the off-season to be helpful, but for Turnbull she would rather be on the ice all year.
“I find it really helps a lot and when I was younger I played many different sports, but once I hit 14 I focused just on hockey,” said Turnbull. “From then until now I’ve just been training specifically for hockey so I’m used to it and I think the training in the summer really pays off in the regular season.”
Still playing the sport she loves, Turnbull said what she enjoys most about playing hockey is the bonds made with teammates and fans throughout the season.
“Just being able to play the game at such a high level is really great because not everyone can,” she said. “Someday I may not be playing anymore, but right now I love every moment of it.”