Red Deer’s Abagael Thiessen is ready to make another step up in her hockey career, one which she never dreamed was possible.
From Aug. 6-13, the 19-year-old will compete for a spot on the National Women’s Development team in Calgary.
She is one of 25 players who received an invitation. From the development team, players will be selected to represent Canada at the 2018 Nations Cup in Füssen, Germany, in January.
The defenceman said it wasn’t until one of her University of North Dakota coaches challenged her last season about the idea that she might be good enough to represent Canada one day.
He recognized her potential and told her if making Team Canada was her goal that she had to start taking it seriously and putting in the work to get there.
“This year especially was kind of a huge turning point for me,” said Thiessen. “(It’s) even more real now especially because I’m so close to it.”
She added the chance to wear the maple leaf, even though it’s close, is still almost unimaginable.
“Oh it’d be huge. It’s been such a goal of mine. After being able to just represent Alberta that was such a cool feeling. I couldn’t even imagine being able to represent Canada,” she said.
In terms of the unimaginable, playing somewhere other than UND next season was up there for Thiessen. Unfortunately, things got messy at UND last year when the Women’s Hockey Program was unexpectedly folded, forcing Thiessen and her teammates to find another place of play.
“It was tough for all of us, but we got through it,” she said.
After one year playing for the Fighting Hawks, the five-foot-nine defender was forced to go through the recruiting process all over again.
She returned to Red Deer from North Dakota in May, then spent parts of the summer trying to decide her future. She settled on St. Cloud State in St. Cloud, Minn. Not only did she feel like the hockey program was top notch, she also liked the potential scholastic opportunities.
“Still pretty heartbreaking with what happened at UND but I’m really excited about the opportunity that St. Cloud presents for me and I’m excited to get to campus and work with the other girls and the coaches,” Thiessen said.
Glad to have that process out of the way, Thiessen is focused on another opportunity with Hockey Canada, after playing in the U18 Selection Camp last summer. She also noted that her experience on Team Alberta will help her at camp next week.
“It’s always such a great opportunity competing along side some of the best girls. You learn so much. I feel like I always come out of the camps with my game elevated,” she said.
“You’re almost forced to. I’m just looking forward to competing at a high level and carrying that through to the season.”
Thiessen hopes to learn as much as she can at the development camp and really ramp up the offensive side of her game next year for the Huskies. She tallied four points in 35 games at UND last year and knows there’s more to give on scoring front.
“I hope to bring the level of play I had at North Dakota and continue to progressing from there,” she said.
“I was getting really happy with how I was playing at the end of the year so hoping I can continue that and keep growing from there at St. Cloud.”
While the teen is focused on the goal of one day wearing the red and white and next season, she’ll always remember her hockey roots.
“Putting Red Deer hockey on the map, that’s always really important to me. Bringing attention to the minor hockey that I grew up in because I really loved it here,” she said.
“It’d be huge all around for a personal goal and for the community and all the support that I’ve had has been amazing.”