Stellarton native the lone Nova Scotian amongst 51 going to Hamilton in May
STELLARTON – The road to the 2018 Winter Olympics begins in just over two weeks.
© David Stluka
Blayre Turnbull celebrates her goal during Wisconsin’s NCAA quarterfinal game against Harvard on Saturday, March 15. Turnbull was recently invited to the Hockey Canada national women’s development team camp, which will take place from May 7-11 in Hamilton, Ont.
Hockey Canada will welcome the best female hockey players in the country to their strength and conditioning camp in Hamilton, Ont. from May 7-11.
Stellarton’s Blayre Turnbull will be amongst those looking to be identified by the Hockey Canada brass as a potential national team member in the near future.
The 21-year-old was invited to the U-18 camp once, but this will be her first invite to the national women’s development team camp.
“It’s obviously a great honour to be considered amongst the best in the country,” she said. “There are so many talented players and so many girls playing the game now in the country, so it’s quite an honour.”
Turnbull, a junior at the University of Wisconsin, finished second on the team in scoring this season with 18 goals and 40 points in 38 games. She also helped her team reach the Frozen Four where they lost their national semifinal 5-3 to Minnesota.
She said it was her team at Wisconsin that she thought of all season, not the possibility of an invite to the Hockey Canada camp, although her play during the NCAA season was likely the reason why she was invited.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it too much throughout the year, but it has always been in the back of my mind since being released from the U-18 camp four or five years ago,” said Turnbull. “I’ve just been thinking about how to get back into the program or get invited to another camp, so I was thrilled when I found out after this season.”
Of the 51 candidates who were invited to the women’s development team camp from across the country, she was the only one from Nova Scotia.
She said that thought didn’t cross her mind, noting a few players such as Jill Saulnier and Carmen MacDonald had been invited in the past. Turnbull also felt that if Alexis Crossley (from Cole Harbour) hadn’t been injured for most of the season that she definitely would’ve been invited.
“I definitely wish there were more of us (Nova Scotians) going, but it’s definitely an honour being the only one at the camp this year.”
Her experience from the U-18 camp will be a plus going into this camp as she knows what to expect. It will be a lot of fitness testing according to Turnbull. She said it’s hard on the body, but more importantly it’s tough mentally.
“You really learn how to make yourself mentally tough because if you can stay tough mentally it helps you get through the physical fitness testing that they put you through,” she said.
To prepare for what Hockey Canada has in store she has been in the gym and on the ice three times each a week. With a few of her Wisconsin teammates also being invited (Ann-Renee Desbiens, Melissa Channell and Sarah Nurse) they have been working together on things. Their coaches were helping them until April 15 in a larger group, but after that they’re unable to due to NCAA regulations. They can now hold mini sessions with a few players at a time, which they have done a few times since with various groups.
That plan will continue this week for her teammates, but on Sunday Turnbull said she was feeling a little under the weather so she would be taking a few days away from training to feel better. She hoped be back in the swing of things as soon as possible.
Based on how she fares at this camp in May she could be invited back in August. That may answer some questions for Turnbull who wasn’t sure what her hockey career would become after next season with Wisconsin.
“I’d love to play as long as I can, so as long as I do everything I can to stay part of the Hockey Canada program I will play as long as possible,” she said.
After her trip to Hamilton she will be home for a few weeks before heading back to school to complete some summer courses and continue to train with teammates for next season. She’s happy with this year overall, but hopes next year they can go one step further in the Frozen Four.
“Overall I would have to say it’s a pretty good season,” she said. “The ultimate goal was to win it all, but it’s a big accomplishment to make the Frozen Four and our team came a long way from the beginning of the season, so we’re definitely happy with it all.”
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris