Keep­ing re­turns from na­tion­als

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Natalie Keep­ing of Bay Roberts con­tin­ues to play at the high­est lev­els of fe­male hockey. She re­cently played for Team At­lantic at the Cana­dian un­der-18 tour­na­ment in Cal­gary, and scored a goal in her first game.

Another chap­ter in Natalie Keep­ing’s ex­cep­tional hockey odyssey has come to a close.

The Level III stu­dent at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate in Bay Roberts re­cently re­turned from the 2013 na­tional un­der-18 women’s cham­pi­onship in Cal­gary, held Nov. 610.

Keep­ing was a mem­ber of Team At­lantic, which fin­ished with a record of one win and two losses dur­ing the pre­lim­i­nary round.

“It was a good ex­pe­ri­ence,” she told the Com­pass.

Keep­ing, 17, was one of three play­ers from New­found­land and Labrador se­lected to the squad. The oth­ers were Amy Curlew of Goose Bay and St. An­thony’s Heather Richards.

Colin Car­rol of Cor­ner Brook is an as­sis­tant coach with the team.

Keep­ing played a myr­iad of roles dur­ing the four-day tour­na­ment, al­though lines were be­ing jug­gled from one game to the next, she was happy with the way she played.

“I think my first game was my best game,” she said.

In that game, Team At­lantic played a tough On­tario Blue team. Keep­ing scored a goal in the con­test, her only one of the tour­na­ment, in a hard fought 4-3 loss.

With just un­der 20 sec­onds gone in the third pe­riod, she wired a slap­shot just over the shoul­der of On­tario net­min­der Sarah McDon­nell to give At­lantic a brief one­goal ad­van­tage. The tour­na­ment Team At­lantic fin­ished in sixth place at the eight-team tour­na­ment.

Things did not get eas­ier for the team in its sec­ond game. Af­ter On­tario Blue came the team from La Belle Prov­ince, with Team Que­bec dou­bling At­lantic by a score of 4-2.

Keep­ing and her team­mates got in the win col­umn with a tight 4-3 vic­tory over Bri­tish Columbia.

With a record of 1-2, At­lantic played Manitoba in the tour­na­ment’s fifth place game.

At­lantic dropped the con­test 20 to fin­ish the tour­na­ment be­hind Manitoba in the standings.

Tour­na­ments like the na­tional un­der-18 cham­pi­onships can pro­vide a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence for the play­ers both on and off the ice.

Play­ers get to bond off the ice with sig­nif­i­cant down­time be­tween games in the early stages, while play­ing against the high­est com­pe­ti­tion pos­si­ble on the ice.

Keep­ing said she found the level of com­pe­ti­tion to be the high­light of her ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It was ex­cit­ing to get to play against play­ers who made un­der18 Team Canada and play­ing against the best play­ers in the coun­try,” she said.

Com­pass file photo

Bay Roberts res­i­dent Natalie Keep­ing re­cently re­turned from the 2013 Cana­dian fe­male un­der-18 cham­pi­onships in Cal­gary.

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