YARMOUTH, N.S. – Allie Munroe can’t wait to put on the Team Canada uniform.
For the Yarmouth native, it will be the first step in what she hopes is a long journey with the national women’s hockey program.
Munroe was named to the national women’s development team that will compete for the Nations Cup in Füssen, Germany, Jan. 3-6.
“I’m going to be putting the Team Canada jersey on and that’s a dream come true,” said the 20-year-old defenceman.
“I’ve been working so hard for this and I’ve had a lot of people rooting for me and it’s been amazing to be one step closer to that dream. It’s going to be surreal for me and I will definitely cherish the moment.”
Munroe is one of seven defenceman selected to the Canadian team, which plays against Finland on Jan. 3 and Russia on Jan. 4.
The development team is an opportunity for the next wave of young Canadian stars to play at the international level.
“These players are part of the up-and-coming Canadian talent that we are tracking as we look towards next year’s women’s world championship and beyond to the 2022 (Olympic) Games,” Gina Kingsbury, director of national women’s team programs for Hockey Canada, said in a news release.
“To be able to provide opportunities for them to play high-level, international events like the Nations Cup is invaluable for them as players and for us as a management group as we continue to build our pipeline to Canada’s national women’s team.”
Munroe missed the summer evaluation camp due to a back injury but was still named to the team.
Her play at the University of Syracuse earned her College Hockey America’s top defenceman award in 2016-17 as a sophomore and opened a lot of eyes.
Last year, she attended the development team’s summer camp but was cut from the program.
“After my freshman year (at Syracuse), I got invited and I competed and made summer camp,” said Munroe. “I got cut there, but I think that was good because in a way it was an eye-opening experience. It taught me a lot about myself as a hockey player.
“I had an injury and couldn’t attend summer camp this time around and that was tough. But I’m really happy to get the opportunity to make the team.”
Munroe is healthy now and has another half-season at Syracuse under her belt.
“I’m all good now and it was a good learning opportunity for me,” Munroe said. “You learn a lot about yourself when you are injured and it makes you want to get back even more.”
RAISING THE HOCKEY IQ
Munroe also had an opportunity to learn from Nova Scotia stars Jill Saulnier and Blayre Turnbull during off-season training sessions. Saulnier and Turnbull are members of Canada’s national women’s team and are hoping to make the cut for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February.
“In the summer, I train with (fitness and performance coach) Scott Willgress and they do, too. So I got to train with them and see how hard they work, and they are amazing role models for me. I’ve been following along with their journey and it’s nice to have two Nova Scotians competing for an Olympic spot, and for me to see that is special. I wish the best for them.”
Munroe’s offensive numbers at Syracuse have been very good. She collected 16 points last season, including five goals. She is also among her team’s leaders in blocked shots, an important skill for a defenceman.
“I like to think I have a high hockey IQ,” Munroe said of her style of play. “I’ve been playing defence since I was young so I try to make the right pass and I like to jump in the offence and I think I can pick the right times to do that. Obviously defence comes first but there is no reason you can’t jump into the play.”
Munroe isn’t sure what to expect when she hits the ice in Germany. The adjustment time for the players will be very short.
“We have a short pre-competition camp in Germany and then the tournament starts pretty quick, so we don’t have a lot of time together,” she said.
Whatever her role with the team is, Munroe said she is ready.
“I will learn my role when I get there. I have no idea what to expect yet. I’m just going to go and do my thing. Whatever role they need me, I’ll just do my thing.”
For now, Munroe is home in Yarmouth with her family enjoying the Christmas break. But her thoughts often turn to playing for Canada and how she will handle the pressure.
“For my first couple of shifts, I might be a little nervous, and then I hope to get right into the game,” said Munroe. “I’m playing for Team Canada with the best players, so there is no reason not to be confident.”
STORY WRITTEN BY GEORGE MYRER, SALTWIRE NETWORK/The Chronicle Herald
Five things to know about Allie Munroe
1. In 2016 she was one of 47 female hockey top prospect candidates selected to attend a strength and conditioning camp for Canada’s National Women’s Hockey Team.
2. In 2015 she was captain of the Nova Scotia team that competed at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in British Columbia.
3. After playing minor hockey at the highest rep levels in Yarmouth, and then playing bantam major, during her midget-aged years she played hockey at a prep school in New Hampshire.
4. She was awarded a four-year, full athletic scholarship to play Division 1 NCAA women’s hockey at Syracuse University in the state of New York.
5. In 2015, when asked about coming from a small town and trying to make it big in hockey, she said, “From a small town it’s maybe not as easy to get noticed so you can’t give up. Hard work is what’s going to get you to where you want to be at the end of the day, with anything in life, not just hockey.”