Ste Anne players named to Hockey Canada women’s selection camp

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by CASSIDY DANKOCHIK

Raygan Kirk remembers attending an event with Olympic gold medal winning defenseman Jocelyne Larocque. Now, the two Ste Anne-born players will be attending the same national camp, as both were invited to the Hockey Canada Summer Showcase selection camp roster.

Kirk said she was excited to get a chance to test herself against top competition, as this year the development and senior camps are combined. The camp will help decide the rosters for Canada’s national women’s team, national women’s development team and U18 team.

“It will be exciting to play against people you’ve looked up to for pretty much your whole life,” Kirk said, noting she hopes to get a chance to get in the net to face down a Marie-Philip Poulin shot.

“You’ll be on a team, you’ll play against them, you’ll practice with them.”

The camp began on Aug. 2 in Calgary, Alta., with player selections made by Hockey Canada director of hockey operations Gina Kingsbury alongside other staff.

“This is a great opportunity to bring all three groups together in one place and start to envision what the next four years will look like,” Kingsbury said in a news release, noting this is the start of a new Olympic cycle.

“We have a full complement of experienced staff to lead our camps but having our Olympic athletes able to play leadership roles where they can mentor and share their experience is a positive step in our journey towards the 2026 Olympic Winter Games in Milan.”

Following the camp, team Canada will face Finland in a friendly and the United States for a cross-border series. The games against the United States have been put on hold since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kirk said her goal was to make the roster for those games against the U.S.A.

“This will be the most normal camp since 2019,” she said, adding she’s hoping to soak up as much as possible from veterans and coaches in net.

“I hadn’t even gone to college yet. I was the youngest one on the team when they took me on for the second week.”

Kirk said she hopes the summer camp can provide a good culture example for Hockey Canada, which has been dealing with the fallout from settling a sexual assault lawsuit related to the world junior team, and accusations it did not appropriately investigate the claims.

Further assault accusations have been made, and Hockey Canada reported to Parliament they had settled seven cases worth over $7.5 million since 1989. The organization has also released a detailed action plan to attempt to change hockey culture in Canada.

“Coming into this week, we want to represent what the logo means, and not what’s going on right now,” Kirk said.

“A lot of it is out of our control. I think a lot of the older girls are trying to get a voice, and for the truth to come out and the right actions to be made. Hopefully there’s change… We’re doing our best to pave the way and show what it really means.”

Getting an invite to the camp is a good step for Kirk, whose hockey career has been tumultuous over the past few years. The NCAA hockey program at Robert Morris University, where Kirk had a record of 23-6-9 with a save percentage above 0.925 over two seasons, was abruptly shut down in 2021.

She transferred to Ohio State University, where she only saw action in four games last season (all victories). On the plus side, she got a chance to win a national championship with the Buckeyes.

Kirk plans to head straight to university after camp.

“Hopefully we can do the repeat, I think that’s the goal,” she said.

“It’s easy to win a national championship once, but to do it twice is pretty tough… I’m excited to see everyone, this summer has flown by for sure.”

In addition to Larocque and Kirk, Karyn Fanstone will be heading to Calgary for the camp. Fanstone, who grew up in Oakbank, is a athletic therapist for the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits.

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