Airdrie hockey product Farah Walker made her national-team debut last week, lacing her skates for Team Canada in the annual U18 summer series against the United States.
After successfully making the team following a two-week tryout process earlier this summer, the 16-year-old goaltender took her place between the pipes for the series opener, which Canada won in a shootout following a 5-5 draw in regulation time.
Walker said it was surreal to play for Canada for the first time.
“Every hockey player has the dream of representing their country,” she said. “To have it actually come true was an unreal experience. Hockey Canada did an amazing job putting together everything. We got to be in the national women’s Olympic room. Being able to put on the jersey in that room was an unbelievable experience and something I’ll remember forever.”
Though she only played 41 minutes and allowed five goals during her time on the ice, Walker said she was pleased with her and her team’s overall performance in the shootout victory. Competing with five other goaltenders, it was a testament that she had the confidence of Canada's coaches to be the opening game’s goaltender.
“I think I had a really good camp throughout the two weeks following into that,” she said. “We played Finland as well, in a mini-series and an inter-squad game against the other tryout team. My performance leading up to it was awesome – I had a shutout in the first game, two goals and a win in the second game.
“[The game against the U.S.] wasn’t my best performance but I’m still happy with how I played and that we came out with the win. It was a great team effort.”
Canada followed up the shootout with a 4-0 shutout win in the second game and a 7-2 win in the third game. While she didn’t play in those fixtures, Walker said the chance to be on the team was still highly educational.
“It’s a rare opportunity that such amazing people from across the country get to come together in a setting like that, so really getting to learn and take everything in,” she said.
Her national-program debut is just the latest accolade for Walker, who has been making a name for herself in hockey in recent years.
After moving on from Airdrie Lightning U15 AA team in 2019, Walker attended the Edge School for elite student-athletes in Springbank, where she continued her hockey education by playing in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL).
Heading into her Grade 12 year this fall, Walker opted to change schools, and said she will be attending the Okanagan Hockey Academy (OHA) in Penticton, B.C. There, she will play under the tutelage of head coach Cassea Schols, who is also the assistant coach for Czechia’s women’s national hockey team.
“They’re definitely a top-three team – they placed third last season,” said Walker of OHA’s prospects.
Apart from that, Walker said she also has her sights set on making Hockey Canada’s U18 women’s team for next year’s U18 world championships in Ostersund, Sweden in January. She added the tryouts for that team will be held in December.