Maggie Connors of St. John’s is making a big mark on the ice this summer.
The 21-year-old forward was named to Canada’s national women’s hockey development team this month after a selection camp with more than 140 of the country’s top female players, including many past Olympians.
“It’s a privilege and an honour at any time to wear the maple leaf, especially after the past two years with everything going on with camps sometimes getting delayed or cancelled,” Connors said this week from Calgary, where she’s suiting up for a three-game series against the United States.
The selection camp was among the largest for women’s hockey to date, Connors said, adding it was an important step in getting players from across the country to mesh, from the youngest divisions up to the senior level.
And with that level of skill in one place came a notable moment during the camp for Connors, she lined up against one of the biggest names on the national stage.
“My first game here I was playing against and lining up against Marie-Philip Poulin,” Connors said, referring to the national team’s longtime captain and three-time Olympic gold medallist.
“It was quite an honour to play against those girls and have a few of the Olympians on my team as well.”
And having mixed rosters meant there was tons of room for learning experiences.
Connors said having Olympians in the fold helped up her game.
“You just learn from them and watch them and you gain so much. You push your game as well,” she said.
“Being able to keep up with them, even simply shooting harder, passing harder, things like that, you really know what it’s like at the senior level. I think was really interesting for them to have this different kind of camp but [it was] very beneficial for everyone.”
Connors said it’s exciting to be the only player on the team representing Newfoundland and Labrador.
She said N.L. athletes always feel hometown support no matter what level they’re playing at or where they are.
“I’m so proud to be from Newfoundland. I think it’s such a unique place out of all the provinces. I’m probably a bit biased,” she said.
The development team has one game left against the U.S., on Saturday at 11 p.m. NT. The teams have split the series so far, with one win each. In Thursday’s loss, Connors was the lone goal scorer for Canada.
In the fall Connors is heading back to her home club in the Ivy League, playing for the Princeton Tigers in her senior year.