Ashton Bell was happy to receive an invite from Hockey Canada for the U22 Women’s Development Team Camp which takes place in August each year, in conjunction with the U18 camp. All players have to receive an invitation from Hockey Canada sent out by email in early July and the camp runs from August 2-11.
Players must arrive fit and prepared as the camp consists of intense fitness testing right from the get-go and for the first three days, followed by practicing and exhibition games. The players are divided into two teams: Gold and Red. Other teams at the camp included Japan, France and USports (team made up of Canadian University players). “Players are scouted throughout the camp and the team is selected from there to play in the three game series versus the USA,” said Bell.
Bell was selected as one of the Assistant Captains for the series. “Anytime that you are selected as one of the team leaders is a huge honour, so I was very excited to be chosen as an alternate Captain for this series. I have known and played with many of these girls a long time now and every one of them are great people and players so I was very humbled to be selected. I take this role very seriously and want to be a leader that my teammates look up to,” she said.
The final roster includes 23 players selected from the camp to play a three-game series vs USA. This series generally alternates between Canada and the USA and this year it was held at Lake Placid, NY from August 14-17. “All three games were very close. We knew going into the series that they would be good, close games and they were,” added Bell. Game 1 – Canada lost 3-2 in OT; Game 2 – Canada lost 4-2 and Game 3 — Canada won 2-1. The three-game series are the only games the development team plays.
The next possible event involving Hockey Canada is the National Women’s Team all Festival in September which is being held in Nova Scotia. “Of course it would be great to be invited to that, but every step with the National Program is by invite — you can never assume that just because you’re asked to one thing you’re going to be asked to the next one. I have to continue working hard to earn my right to be there so I hope I continue to do that as my dream is to be a part of the National Senior Team one day.”
As for now, Bell returned to the University of Minnesota Duluth on August 22 to begin her third year as a Biology major and to play with the Bulldogs. Team activities began on August 23 and school started on the 26th.
The National team had moved Bell from forward to defence and she will continue to play that position with the Bulldogs. “I will be playing in an offensive defensive role so I will still be able to get up into the play the way I am used to. I am excited to be in this position and look forward to this new challenge. I hope that I can fulfill my role and help both teams out to the best of my ability.”
Bell reflects that being selected to the National Development team was such a huge honour and great experience. “It makes me proud to put on that jersey representing my country. Each process I go through allows me to grow more as a person and a player and for that I am truly grateful.”