For the first time, Red Deer’s Shae Demale will don the maple leaf on the ice.
This week, the Saint Mary’s University (SMU) Huskies forward was selected to play for Canada at the 2023 FISU Winter World University Games.
The Games will take place in Lake Placid, New York from January 12-22 in 2023, and will feature some of the best collegiate athletes from across the world.
Demale told The Advocate she’s excited about the opportunity to represent her country.
“Anytime anyone gets this opportunity it’s pretty special. I’m honoured,” she said.
“The competition I think is going to be good and it’s definitely exciting to play with some of the top players from U Sports. It’s going to be definitely a great opportunity to see what the competition is like around the world for university athletes.”
The roster of 22 U Sports players on Team Canada was selected by scouting the athletes this season and taking into account previous years.
The Canadian women’s hockey team won the silver medal in 2019 when it was held in Krasnoyarsk, Russia but haven’t won gold since 2013 in Trentino, Italy. The Red Deer product hopes to change that.
“It’s been a few years but I think we definitely have the talent on the team this year to win gold so it’ll be really exciting,” she explained.
Canada will open the tournament on Jan. 11 against Slovakia and after round-robin play, if they’re successful they’ll play in the semi-finals on Jan. 20 and the finals on Jan. 21.
In a press release by SMU, Team Canada’s head coach Greg Bowles said they’re thrilled with the talent on the roster.
“Of course, there were very few ‘easy’ decisions as the level of talent across U Sports has never been better, and it certainly has never been deeper,” he said.
“As Canadians, we all understand that anytime you get to don the maple leaf and represent this country on the international stage it is a thrill, a privilege, and an honour.”
“That said, this group can’t wait to get started and add their part to the legacy that is Canadian hockey.”
Demale was named a First Team U Sports All-Canadian and the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) MVP last season.
This year, the 22-year-old has 12 goals and 10 assists for 22 points in the first half of the season nearly surpassing her point total of 25 from last campaign. Her season thus far has been good enough for second in the AUS in goals and third in points.
“It’s been a good season so far. We just finished up the first half a couple of weeks ago and I think our team is really pulling together,” Demale said. “I’m excited to finish this season out without with us and I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position for the second half.”
In her fourth year of playing for the Huskies in Halifax, the team has played excellent hockey and currently sits in third place in the AUS standings at 10-5-1-0. 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.
Before she played for the Huskies Demale played her second year of midget hockey in Edmonton for the Northern Alberta Xtreme and her first and third years in Red Deer for the Chiefs U18 AAA. She played her last season of hockey in Red Deer during the 2017-18 campaign.
“I think that all of my coaches and all the support systems I had in Alberta and Red Deer definitely led to getting here and had a big part in my development,” she said.