KAMLOOPS — When most boys start their hockey careers, it’s with dreams of the NHL dancing through their minds; for young women, the opportunities to play pro hockey aren’t as numerous, or lucrative.
For many female hockey players, the pinnacle of the sport is the Women’s National Team. One Kamloops athlete is on her way to reaching that dream, as she’ll be suiting up for the Under 18 Hockey Canada squad heading to Moscow for the 2018 IIHF U18 Women’s World Hockey Championship, that starts January 6th in Dmitrov, Russia.
It was early December, and the Kamloops Midget Tier 1 Blazers boys were hosting the South Okanagan Golden Knights in a league game.
For many of the players, the dream of donning the Maple Leaf and representing Canada on the ice is still just that - a dream; for Kamloops goaltender Kendra Woodland, it’s become a reality.
“I got the call when I was on the bus with my club team actually,” Woodland remembers. “I remember actually shedding a couple of tears with my Mom. It was just a dream coming true.”
For Woodland, playing on the boy's team was a decision she made to try and keep her skills sharp. It’s the same path one of her idols took to the National Women’s Team.
“I’ve always followed after [National Women’s Team goaltender] Shannon Szabados,” Woodland told CFJC Today. “She’s always been an idol of mine, and she’s always played [with the] boys… It’s bettered my game every day, and I’m glad I can play at that level.”
Kendra’s not the only Woodland on the Midget Tier 1 squad. Her brothers Riley and Shayne coach the team.
“It’s pretty cool,” Riley, who is the head coach, said. “I’ve seen her work hard, I went and watched her camp in Calgary in August… She’s grown into an incredible;y well-rounded player. It’s a great feeling, as her coach and her brother.”
Despite having her brothers on the bench, Kendra had to earn her way onto the team, as well as her minutes in the crease, which Riley says she’s done.
“Just steady in net,” Riley says of his sister’s play. “Very consistent. Rarely ever has a bad game. She’s always ready to go.”
Woodland and the rest of the U18 Women’s team leaves for Moscow on December 28th, but she knows her team back in Kamloops will be cheering her on.
“They’re all so excited,” she said. “I have them behind me 100%, and that’s the best feeling ever. I know that I have 19 brothers on that team, and it’s a crazy feeling. It’s awesome.”
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