Two Stoney Creek Junior Sabres are heading to the global ice.
Forwards Sydney McKibbon and Sarah Nurse will join Team Canada in its quest for gold at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) under-18 women’s world championship Dec. 29 to Jan. 5 in Heinola and Vierumäki, Finland.
“It’s an honour to have been chosen to represent Canada on an international stage,” 17-year-old McKibbon said. “I think it will be a great experience for everyone involved and I can’t wait to start playing.”
Nurse, 17, said she’s also honoured to represent the nation.
“It will be an unforgettable experience where I get to play with, and against, the best under-18 players in the world,” she said.
McKibbon earned her spot on Team Canada’s 22-player roster after being invited to a Hockey Canada strength and conditioning camp in May in Toronto and selection camp in August in Calgary. She later made Team Canada’s 22-player squad for a three-game series against the U.S. under-18 women’s team in August in Blaine, Minn., where Canada skated to two wins.
Nurse also was invited to both camps.
“After getting called back in August, two days into camp, I pulled my hip flexor during a fitness test and was unable to participate, so I was sent home and was out for a month,” she said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to be on Team Canada in the summer, but I knew that Hockey Canada would monitor my play throughout the year before choosing their final team for worlds. I’ve played hard these last few months and I’m very happy that I was chosen for the final team that is competing in the world championship.”
McKibbon and Nurse also played for Team Ontario Red at the 2012 national under-18 women’s championship in November in Dawson Creek, B.C., where Ontario Red won a bronze medal.
Junior Sabres head coach Stacey Marnoch said she couldn’t be more “thrilled” for the duo.
“Both Sydney and Sarah are phenomenal teammates and leaders,” she said. “They work hard and are willing to accept whatever role they are given and perform it to the best of their ability. I am confident they will represent themselves, their parents and their Sabres family with pride and passion.”
Team Canada will battle Hungary in its first game at the world championship on Dec. 29.
The team also will take on Finland and Germany of group A in the preliminary round.
Canada scored gold at the 2012 IIHF under-18 women’s world championship earlier this year in Prerov and Zlin, Czech Republic., where it shut out the U.S. 3-0 in the final.
McKibbon and Nurse agreed the competition will be fierce at the world championship this year.
“To win another gold medal, we will need to be the hardest working team at the event,” McKibbon said. “We have a team full of character players and everyone has their role. In order for us to be successful and come out on top, we will need to give it all we have every shift of every game.”
Nurse added, Team Canada is stacked with talent.
“We have a lot of skill on our team, so if we out-work every team we play against, we should have an excellent shot at bringing home the gold,” she said.
McKibbon said heading into the championship she knows one thing for sure.
“There is no other feeling that compares to pulling on the Team Canada jersey with my teammates,” she said.
Nurse said she’s looking forward to experiencing that feeling for the first time.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of doing since I was seven years old,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to playing with the best under-18 players in Canada.”
McKibbon and Nurse said they’re looking to bring their ‘A’ game to the ice
“In short competitions like the world championship, it’s so important to mesh with your teammates and know where they are going to be on the ice,” McKibbon said. “I want to be a leader and playmaker and bring everything in my game that has got me to where I am now. As long as we are the hardest working team, I know we will be successful.”
Nurse added, she hopes to use her speed to her advantage and play a strong two-way game.
“I’m going to play how I always play, I’m not going to change up my game,” she said. “I also hope to bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm. I enjoy pumping my teammates up on the bench, so I can’t wait to do that in Finland.”