No goalie con­tro­versy

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - HOCKEY -

BAB­COCK is con­fi­dent a Cana­dian goalie will step for­ward this NHL sea­son and make the se­lec­tion of a starter at the Olympics easy for him.

“One of th­ese goalies will be real good. And one of th­ese goalies will be hot go­ing in so that ev­ery­one will know who’s play­ing goal for Canada,” he said.

Bab­cock added he’s not limited to the goalies or skaters at this camp but only to Cana­dian birth cer­tifi­cates.

“There’s lots of play­ers that aren’t here that prob­a­bly might end up with an op­por­tu­nity. Play good. I read or hear, ‘Oh this guy feels snubbed.’ So what? Do some­thing about it,” said the coach. “The great thing about life is you get to con­trol what hap­pens to you the ma­jor­ity of the time. Do some­thing about it if you’re not here.” Walchuk af­ter at­tend­ing a Di­nos prac­tice a few days ear­lier with Calgary coach Mark How­ell.

“That’s the best story about this whole thing so far. Life is about what you make of it,” said Bab­cock. “Their team had a party, a dou­ble-keg­ger the night be­fore I came in. We put them through the paces (the next day) and that kid was the best kid on the ice by a mil­lion miles. So when Thorn­ton couldn’t come in — when you do good things, good things hap­pen. He did a good job. He didn’t have to. He did a good job, was ex­cel­lent out there. We phoned him last night and said, ‘Do you want to come?’ Great, and his stall was next to Crosby.” THE stress is both enor­mous and con­stant. The days can be long and gru­elling and there is ei­ther heartache or pure joy at the end of the process.

And Win­nipeg’s Bai­ley Bram — one of four Man­i­to­bans still in the fight for spots on the Cana­dian women’s Olympic hockey team — is loving absolutely ev­ery sec­ond of it.

“Oh yeah... it’s ex­tremely stress­ful,” said Bram, a proud prod­uct of Ste. Anne and Bal­moral Hall, via tele­phone from the national team’s base in Calgary. “But it’s also kinda cool that ev­ery day you know you have to come and leave ev­ery­thing on the ice and give it your all.

“You just never know when that cut is com­ing, when the coaches are watch­ing you... ev­ery day you have to give your best. I think it’s great be­cause all th­ese girls are work­ing so hard it should make us that much bet­ter for Sochi.”

Bram, along with Jo­ce­lyne Larocque of Ste. Anne, Water­hen’s Brigette Lacquette and Jenelle Ko­hanchuk of Win­nipeg, has been liv­ing in Calgary full-time since early Au­gust as part of Hockey Canada’s all-in ap­proach to build­ing the women’s team.

They head to Sochi, Rus­sia, this Sun­day for an ex­hi­bi­tion tour­na­ment and will play in the 4 Na­tions Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y., in Novem­ber as well as ex­hi­bi­tion tilts against the United States and close to 30 games against AAA boys teams from the Al­berta Midget Hockey League.

The of­fi­cial Olympic ros­ter likely won’t be an­nounced un­til De­cem­ber, mean­ing a hand­ful of the play­ers sweat­ing and toil­ing ev­ery day won’t be go­ing to Sochi in Fe­bru­ary.

“I try not to think about the cuts and play as I would on ev­ery other team and try to get com­fort­able,” said Bram. “I know I have a lot of friends and fam­ily who are sup­port­ive, and if I ever need some­body to talk to they are there for me. All I can do is take it day by day and try not to jump too far ahead of my­self.

“It’s the ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time be­ing here right now.”

Bram is draw­ing on her ex­pe­ri­ence with the national team in the last two world cham­pi­onships as proof — both to her­self and the coach­ing staff — that she be­longs on a ros­ter that still in­cludes 13 play­ers who suited up for Canada at the Olympics in 2010.

“It def­i­nitely helps get you a lit­tle more com­fort­able and also helps with the con­fi­dence, which is prob­a­bly one of the most im­por­tant things at this level be­cause there are so many girls who can play here,” said Bram. “That’s an es­sen­tial part: hav­ing the con­fi­dence and be­lief in your­self to do it and that comes with time. I’m get­ting close to be­ing able to play with­out think­ing about it or wor­ry­ing about screw­ing up or what the vets might be think­ing. It takes a long time, but it’s com­ing around.

“Last night I was think­ing about it. It’s like, ‘This is pretty cool. How many peo­ple get the chance to go to Rus­sia to play in a hockey tour­na­ment?’ That’s pretty big. I mean, some time this week we’re sup­posed to have a chance to meet the men’s team... Sid­ney Crosby and Jonathan Toews... that’s pretty sur­real.”

Bai­ley Bram

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