Oly selection the best-kept secret in Deloraine

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Tuesday’s announcement unveiling the national women’s hockey roster for the Beijing Winter Olympics was old news in at least one household in Deloraine.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/01/2022 (210 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Tuesday’s announcement unveiling the national women’s hockey roster for the Beijing Winter Olympics was old news in at least one household in Deloraine.

Given three weeks advance notice that she had qualified for her first Olympic team, Team Canada blue-liner Ashton Bell was able to share the good news with her parents, Tony and Teresa, and a few other close confidantes. Everyone was sworn to secrecy.

“I’ve been able to tell my family and loved ones so that was good,” said Bell by phone from the national team headquarters in Calgary Wednesday afternoon. “It was nice that I was able to tell them but it was definitely hard keeping it a secret in my small town. I had to keep that secret or it would’ve gotten out and spread through the whole town pretty quickly.”

Deloraine’s Ashton Bell will be wearing No. 21 for Team Canada at the Olympics. (Instagram)

Bell joined fellow Manitobans Jocelyne Larocque, a defender from Ste. Anne, and goaltender Kristen Campbell of Brandon on the 23-player roster.

Six skaters from the national team centralization roster did not make the grade.

Although there was no suspense Tuesday, Bell took time to celebrate the accomplishment with her Canadian teammates.

“They made the day really special,” said Bell. “Right when we got to the rink yesterday we had red Olympic jerseys in our locker stalls and that was really cool seeing those and we got to take a bunch of pictures with those on and then they had that great (introductory) video and we all sat together as a team and watched that.”

Bell, 22, has been paired at various times with Ella Shelton and Micah Zandee-Hart during Canada’s gold-medal run at the world championship and then during a recent six-game Rivalry Series with the United States.

“I’ve enjoyed my experience so much,” said Bell, who delayed her fifth and final season at the University of Minnesota Duluth to join the national team. “It’s been incredible so far and can only get better from here. I’ve learned so much as a player and a person and just being able to be around this group of girls for those four months or so, learning from them and getting pushed every day, day in and day out to be better. It’s really been an incredible experience.”

Campbell, meanwhile, had a memorable time relaying the good news to her parents, Brent and Janet.

“They were really excited,” said Campbell. “I remember my mom was kind of tearing up and it was just really special. Obviously, they’ve been there through everything since I first started playing hockey and it was definitely special to share that moment with them.”

The 24-year-old Campbell will also be making her first trip to the Olympics. She’s part of a three-goaltender rotation with national team veterans Emerance Maschmeyer and Ann-Renée Desbiens, both 27.

“I would say I’m really ready,” said Campbell, who did not play during the Rivalry Series. “I think this year we had a chance to play a lot of junior A boys teams and I played in pretty much every one of those (exhibition) games and gained a ton of experience. I definitely feel like I was able to grow my game and get exposed to even a faster level of play and harder shots.”

On Wednesday, the Canadian players were sequestered at a hotel prior to leaving for China on Jan. 26. Remaining free of COVID-19 is the main goal because testing positive would eliminate a player from going to the Olympics.

“That’s definitely been a big stresser here the last little bit but we’re just trusting the plan that our medical staff has come up with,” said Bell. “I know they’re taking every precaution to make sure that we’re as safe as possible heading into the Olympics and making sure that we can get on that flight to Beijing.”

mike.sawatzky@winnipegfreepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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