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Red Deer’s Shae Demale reflects on winning gold at World University Games

Demale was one of Canada’s top performers
The Canadian women’s hockey team beats Japan in the goal medal at the 2023 FISU Winter World University Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. last month. (Photo by FISU/ Twitter)

It’s been a couple of weeks since Red Deer’s Shae Demale won the gold medal as a member of Team Canada’s women’s hockey team but it’ll be a memory she’ll never forget.

The 22-year-old forward helped Canada defeat Japan 5-0 in the championship game at the 2023 FISU Winter World University Games en route to an undefeated tournament and the gold medal in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” she said. “It was a really great experience and probably once in a lifetime. To have that experience with that group of girls is pretty cool.”

It also happened to be her first time donning the maple leaf on her jersey and explained if she ever got the opportunity to do it again she’d do it in a heartbeat.

Demale was one of 22 U Sports athletes who made up Canada’s roster and was one of her country’s top competitors finishing second on the team and third overall in the tournament with five goals and 10 points.

“The level is super high in U Sports and it’s a huge honour to be a part of showcasing that talent we have. Getting to play with all those amazing girls and you knew every time you stepped on the ice that everyone out there felt the same so it was pretty cool,” she added.

“At the end of the day, we were there to win gold and I’m just happy I could help do that for everyone.”

The Canadians closed out the tournament a perfect 7-0. After they finished round-robin play on top of the standings with a record of 5-0, they took care of business in the semi-finals knocking off Slovakia 6-1 and Japan 5-0 in the gold medal game.

The team was outright dominant outscoring their opponents 42-3. Heading into the final Demale said the team developed good chemistry and were really close. It also helped their confidence after they defeated Japan earlier in the tournament.

“We definitely knew we could do it,” she said.

The squad had plenty of family and fan support at the game. The biggest crowd came when they played the United States on their home ice at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.

The arena also happened to be the same sheet of ice the United States men’s national team defeated the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics in a game that was coined the ‘Miracle on Ice.’

“We played the U.S. in front of a sold-out crowd so that was a pretty cool experience but overall we had quite a few supporters come out,” she said.

“Anytime there were a bunch of fans they gave you good energy to feed off of.”

Demale is in her fourth and final year playing for the Saint Mary’s Huskies women’s hockey program. This season she has 15 goals and 12 assists for 27 points surpassing her point total of 25 from the last campaign. Her season thus far has been good enough for second in the AUS in goals and third in points.

The team has played excellent hockey and currently sits in fourth place in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) standings at 14-9-1-0 and clinched a playoff spot.

At the end of the season, Demale will move on from the program once she graduates. She hopes to continue to play hockey professionally in Europe or in North America.

Away from the rink, Demale is just as dedicated to her studies as the game of hockey. Recently, she was named to the top eight U Sports Academic All-Canadian status for the 2021-22 season.

One male and female student from each U Sports conference was selected to the top eight and Demale represented the AUS.

The Red Deer native averaged a perfect 4.30 grade point average over the last two years while studying in the bachelor of science program.

She was joined on the list by Red Deer’s Eric Lutz and Rebecca Smith.

“It’s a huge honour and to be among those eight athletes including a couple of others from Red Deer was very cool and I’m super happy,” she said.

Being a student-athlete she said takes a lot of sacrifice and organization.

“I’ve been able to do it for the last five years and I think at the end of the day it’s worth it. All the time and effort you put in and to get honoured with this award in my last year makes it worth it.”

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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