Kelowna duo eyes spot with Team Canada
Lauren Spring and Sam Fieseler share a common aspiration—to wear their country's colours in international women's hockey competition.
The 17-year-old Kelowna products and Pursuit of Excellence teammates hope to take another step towards that goal this week at Hockey Canada's under-18 women's national championship.
Both Spring and Fieseler will play with Team B.C. at the eight-team event which begins Wednesday in Calgary.
The tournament is the latest step in the evaluation process as Hockey Canada looks to select its final 22-player roster for the World Under-18 women's championship next March in Hungary.
Spring and Fieseler–along with POE teammates Karly Heffernan and Sarah Potomak—are already firmly on Canada's radar, having played this summer in a U-18 exhibition series between the Canadians and Americans in Salt Lake City.
Because of her bloodlines, Spring's desire to play for her country doesn't come as a big surprise. Lauren's dad, Don Spring, suited up for Canada at the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, N.Y.
"Growing up knowing my dad played for Team Canada, it's always been a huge dream of mine to do the same, to follow in his footsteps," said Spring, a forward and the captain of the POE U-18 girls' squad. "Making the series team (Canada-U.S.), it was an amazing feeling to be able to wear the jersey, and to sing the national anthem in front of all your family and friends. I've always wanted to play for my country at a world level, so hopefully I can do that."
Like Spring, Sam Fieseler has wanted to wear the Maple Leaf for as long as she can remember. Her dad, Perry, has been a guiding influence since Fieseler first laced up a pair of skates more than a decade ago.
"My dad inspired me a lot and pushed me when I needed to be at my best," said Fieseler, a defenceman at POE. "To get a chance to play at nationals and to try and make the national team means a lot to me, it's like a dream come true."
Based on their development over the last couple of seasons at the Kelowna-based academy, POE female prep team head coach Scott Spencer wouldn't be at all surprised to see all four of his players make the grade with Team Canada.
As for Spring and Fieseler, Spencer has plenty of accolades for both Kelowna girls.
"Lauren is a very dependable two-way hockey player, she rarely makes mistakes, shoots the puck well and is a great skater," Spencer said. "She's also our captain, so she's a great leader."
Spencer on Fieseler: "Sammy is a physical, strong-skating defenceman. She moves the puck well and can jump into the offense…so she's what we'd call a really good, three-prong defenceman."
Over the long term, both Spring and Fieseler have aspirations of playing for Canada's national senior team at the Olympic level.
But in the more immediate future, the POE teammates are focused on doing what's necessary this week at nationals and for the rest of the season in order to make the final roster for Canada's U-18 team.
"Hopefully we're in good a spot right now but you never know, some other players can have a strong year and things can change. You just gotta keep going at it, working hard and hope for the best. Nationals is exciting and it's a good opportunity for us."
Play at the under-18 national women's championship begins Wednesday with Team B.C. taking on Quebec.