The hockey season is not quite over for two Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs.
Fresh off earning silver as Esso Cup hosts on the weekend, the next stop for star defencemen Mairead Bast and Abagael Thiessen is the U18 national women’s summer strength and conditioning camp in Hamilton, Ont., from May 6-10.
This is the first step in making the U18 roster for next season and their goals of one day playing for Team Canada.
“I can only imagine, it would be breathtaking standing on the blue line in a Canadian jersey would really top off my dreams,” said Bast, 16.
After this camp there will be a summer camp and then a three-game series against Team U.S.A and further scouting.
For Thiessen, 16, this camp gives her a shot at some redemption. She was a late cut the last couple of years for Team Alberta, but she proved this season she was one of the elite defenders in Canada in her age group.
The five-foot-nine blue-liner was second on the Chiefs in scoring this Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League season with 21 points (14 goals, seven assists) in 28 games.
But she was at her best when the team needed it most in the Esso Cup, in particular rallying the Chiefs with a goal and an assist in the final five minutes of their 3-2 shootout victory over the Central Plains Capitals to set up a semifinal date with the Saskatoon Stars.
She learned a lot from those experiences of trying out for the provincial team.
“Just to be mentally stronger and dealing with the heartache of getting cut,” said Thiessen. “I’ve never (been cut) in boys I usually made AA or A up until then, it was almost a shock the first year but it helps you deal with it in the future.”
This has been a big year for her already, which also includes committing to NCAA hockey power University of North Dakota.
“It’s been amazing, it’s really nice to have the college part done in my Grade 11 year so I can really focus on just playing and having a little more fun with next year and having this opportunity with Team Canada,” said Thiessen.
The five-foot-seven Bast is entering the camp with an open mind but with big expectations.
After spending the season playing against the top midget aged players in Alberta and the past week against some of the top players in the country, she has a good idea of what to expect in Hamilton.
The camp will include some familiar names, having just played Sheridan Oswald of the Central Plains Capitals and Sophie Shirley of the Saskatoon Stars at the Esso Cup.
“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” said Bast. “We don’t like to talk about ourselves like that but I think I did pretty well (at the Esso Cup) and I’m not too nervous about (the competition).
“The Esso Cup was a big exposure, just to let us know what else is out there and all of the different types of girls and their skill level. It’s going to be nice heading into that camp having that added experience.”
However, the player Bast is most looking forward to seeing in Hamilton is Thiessen.
“That comfort level of her being there, it’s going to be a lot better because you know you’re going to have someone to talk to at the end of the day,” she said.
Bast was fourth on the Chiefs in scoring with 12 points (6-6-12) but in just 18 games, and is currently trying to decide on her college hockey future. She also had a big Esso Cup scoring the shootout winner in the Chiefs’ win over the Capitals and then in their 2-1 semifinal win over the Stars to put them in the gold medal game, which they lost 2-1 to Sudbury.
This camp will cap a big season for her and help put the pain of losing the Esso Cup gold medal behind her.
“This year has been incredible, just knowing that we were hosting nationals it put a good vibe on life this year. It was fun getting prepared for it and being with the girls every day and going to school and seeing them again, just being with them was awesome,” said Bast.
“It was a tough loss and hard to get over right now, but maybe when I get to Hamilton it will help get it off my mind.”