Hockey player Sarah Wozniewicz is showing the rest of the world what the people of Cochrane already know – she excels at her sport.
The 16-year-old Edge School Mountaineers forward experienced one of her dreams Aug. 14 to 17, when she played for Canada at the 2019 Women's Under 18 series against the United States at the Olympic Centre in Lake Placid, N.Y.
‘Woz,’ as her teammates and coaches call her, earned the national call-up after impressing at a selection camp earlier this summer.
“I didn't know what the results were going to be at the end of camp, as anything can happen,” she said. “I just tried to stay positive during the process.”
Wozniewicz described being "speechless" when she found out she had cracked the Team Canada roster.
"It is such an honour to wear the maple leaf and I was beyond grateful for the opportunity,” she said. “My family has played a huge role in helping me reach this point. They are always there to support me and help me get better.
“Also, my Edge team coach, Carla McLeod, has played a big role in helping me reach this goal. She has coached me for the last two years and has taught me so much about hockey and life skills."
In the opening game, Canada defeated the U.S. 5-4, marking the first time since 2016 Canada won the opener of the summer series. Wozniewicz scored on a well-worked redirect in the high slot for Canada's second power-play goal of the evening.
The United States came back the following night with a vengeance, firing 35 shots at the Canadian goaltender, but it was the Red and White who struck first. Wozniewicz won a face-off cleanly, and the puck fell to defenceman Ann-Frederik Naud, who fired the puck through the five-hole of the American netminder for an early 1-0 lead.
The U.S. would tie the game in the third period, but, with just 48 seconds left on the clock, Canada’s Maddi Wheeler responded with a goal. It appeared Canada had snatched the victory – as well as the best-of-three series.
The Americans had different ideas, and after a Canadian penalty with eight seconds left, the U.S. knotted the game up on the ensuing face-off to push it to overtime. The Red, White and Blue broke Canadian hearts by scoring the game-winner just a minute-and-a-half into the extra frame.
In the first period of the rubber game, Canada earned two early goals from Lindsay Bochna and Marianne Picard. Defensively, goaltender Eve Gascon shut the door, stopping all 26 shots she faced.
Wozniewicz had another strong performance, finishing the game with a goal and an assist.
"Winning the series brought excitement to the team. Everyone was so happy after the final game. Being able to beat Canada's biggest rival was a special moment," she said.
“All three games were really close, but overall, over the course of the three games, I thought we outplayed them. I thought I also had a good series – I was just trying to play my game and do my best for my team."
Now that summer is coming to an end, Wozniewicz will shift her focus to the upcoming Canadian Sport School Hockey League season with the Edge Mountaineers female prep team.