A pair of Kelowna female hockey players are among just six B.C. players that have been identified by Hockey Canada as potential future players for Team Canada’s senior women’s hockey team.
Jesse Keca and Samantha Fieseler both took part in Team Canada’s women’s Under-18 strength and conditioning camp in Toronto earlier this month. The two Kelowna natives were among just 57 players from across Canada and only six in the province of B.C. to garner the prestigious invite.
The pair were put through their paces by Hockey Canada staff and coaches, spending five days at York University, training for as many as 14 hours per day with other young hopefuls.
“It was definitely a different experience,” said Keca, 17. “It was a lot harder than anything I’ve been through before. We were looking at 14 hour training days so it was pretty hectic. It was exciting. It was a little overwhelming at the beginning but as I got into the camp it was really good to train at that level.”
Players at the camp spent some time on the ice but the majority was off-ice training. The camp is considered an important first step in Hockey Canada’s process of identifying players who could be in the running to represent Canada at the 2014 Olympic Winter Game in Sochi, Russia.
Keca played last season on the Thompson Okanagan Rockets in the B.C. Female Midget AAA League where the 5-foot-7, 125 pound forward had 25 goals and 16 assists in 22 games.
The two Kelowna girls had played together on some teams through Kelowna Minor Hockey. This past season, Fieseler, a 5-foot-5 140 pound defenceman, played her first year at the Warner Hockey School in Warner, AB where she played a key roll on Warner’s power play and penalty killing units. In 58 games she had four goals and 18 assists.
Players invited to the strength and conditioning camp are eligible for Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team and Canada’s National Women’s Under-22/Development Team. Following the camp, Hockey Canada scouts will continue to evaluate players at national team camps in August, and as they compete with their club and school teams at provincial and national events, such as the 2012 National Women’s Under-18 Championship this November in Dawson Creek, B.C.
For Keca, hockey isn’t her only sport. The Okanagan Mission Secondary student continues to excel in both hockey and speed skating and she says the training camp gave her a boost as she came back to Kelowna to continue to train for both of her sports.
“It was good to see where my competition was at but also just the seminars that we did and the training and the testing made me want to come home and train to improve for next season,” she said. “I try to train for both sports and I think it makes me more well-rounded at each of them.”
Hockey Canada is expected to cut down the list from 57 to 40 before another camp will be held in August. In the meantime Keca and Fieseler will continue with their schooling and athletics with the hopes of receiving another invitation from Hockey Canada this summer.