Aly McLeod to represent Canada with U18 national women's hockey team in series vs. United States

Stratford's Aly McLeod was one of 23 players chosen to wear the country's colours Aug. 14-17 in a three-game series against the United States in Lake Placid, N.Y.

After a strong showing at Hockey Canada's national women's under-18 selection camp in Calgary, Stratford's Aly McLeod was one of 23 players chosen to wear the country's colours Aug. 14-17 in a three-game series against the United States in Lake Placid, N.Y. (Hockey Canada photo)

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After a strong showing at Hockey Canada’s national women’s under-18 selection camp in Calgary, Stratford’s Aly McLeod was one of 23 players chosen to wear the country’s colours Aug. 14-17 in a three-game series against the United States in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“It’s obviously something I’ve dreamed about since I started playing hockey,” the 17-year-old forward said. “Just very stressful the days leading up to making the team, but it’s a relief after and you get to celebrate with the rest of the team.”

As part of the 10-day Team Canada Summer Showcase, U18 hopefuls took part in on- and off-ice training, intersquad games, classroom sessions, fitness testing, and an exhibition game against a visiting Russian U18 team.

“For our athletes at the under-18 level, this week is their first step into our program, which is a key component as we look to develop and identify those who will be part of our program competing on the international stage this year and moving forward,” Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, said in a release. “We have had tremendous success under the leadership of head coach Howie Draper, who has continued to help develop these athletes at a pivotal point in their careers.”

McLeod, a St. Mike’s student and St. Lawrence University commit, flashed her offensive skills at the showcase.

“I’m very happy with how I played,” she said. “I kind of surprised myself a bit. I thought I made plays and skated hard and kept my conditioning up throughout camp, which I’m very happy about.

“I just wanted to be able to play consistent throughout camp, start strong and finish strong, and I thought I did that.”

It was McLeod’s first time with the national program after having participated in a similar provincial showcase last year.

“I knew as as far as conditioning and on-ice goes, they were kind of similar and I had to show well for both camps,” she said. “It’s an honour, but I did a good job of not focusing on (making Team Canada) and just playing my game and showing what I can do on the ice and not get ahead of myself.”

Canada faces the Americans Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

“They’re very fast and skilled, but I’m excited to see what we can do against them,” McLeod said. “I’m looking to remain consistent through the next week here and keep playing the way I have been.”

The next three months will be equally as important for McLeod, who is entering her fifth season with the Provincial Women’s Hockey League’s Cambridge Rivulettes. The five-foot-four winger had seven goals and 15 points in 25 games last season and knows what it will take to make the national team that will represent Canada at the U18 worlds in December. The roster will be announced Nov. 18.

“Just keep pushing myself on and off the ice and keep improving every day.”

cosmith@postmedia.com

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