Trying out for Canada’s national hockey teams never gets old for Neepawa’s Halli Krzyzaniak.
The 19-year-old defenceman is one of 49 players who were invited to the under-22 womens’ national team strength and conditioning camp next week in Hamilton along with fellow local NCAA Division I players Ashleigh Brykaliuk of Brandon, Glenboro’s Brittni Mowat and Bruxelles’ Cassidy Carels. Krzyzaniak has been through the grind to make a national team before with both the U18 and U22 programs, and she’s looking forward to going through the camp, which starts on Wednesday.
“Obviously any time you get to be in that environment it’s quite an honour and I’m very excited, said Krzyzaniak, who helped Canada win two world U18 championships. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
The U22 camp won’t have any on-ice sessions, except for goalies. Instead, the players will be put through fitness tests during the five-day camp, which will be used as a baseline to see how the players improve during the summer before the next step in the tryouts.
Krzyzaniak, who made it through that stage and practised with the Olympic team last August before beginning her freshman season with the University of North Dakota women’s hockey team, feels UND’s training staff has her ready for the camp, but isn’t expecting it to be easy.
“That’s difficult, but it’s something that you have to get through before you get to do the fun stuff in August,” she said. “I’ve done the testing quite a few times, a couple times with U18 and last summer with U22. The tests are nothing new, so I think the experience that I have really helps calm the nerves.”
Krzyzaniak had a solid year at UND, scoring two power-play goals and picking up eight assists as her team finished third in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s regular season with a 14-10-4-2 mark. North Dakota upset Wisconsin in the conference semifinals before falling 3-1 to national runner-up Minnesota in the final.
As much as the 5-foot-9 biology student is looking forward to trying out for Team Canada again, she’s also looking forward to reuniting with some of her friends, including former national team teammates Brykaliuk, a forward with the University of Minnesota Duluth, and Carels, a forward with Providence College. She’s also excited for Mowat, a Bemidji State goalie, to make her debut in the national program.
“It’s great,” she said. “I know there’s a couple girls that maybe this is their first time going to camp, so it’s awesome to see them get this opportunity.”
The national U18 strength and conditioning camp will run in conjunction with the U22 camp in Hamilton. Fifty-three players will take part, including goalie Kristen Campbell of Brandon (Shaftesbury Academy Titans), defenceman Melissa Hunt of Hartney (Westman Wildcats) and MacGregor’s Sheridan Oswald (Central Plains Capitals).