The Carillon - ONLINE EDITION
By: Terry Frey
Posted: 08/24/2018 11:40 AM
It’s been a whirlwind past few months for Ste. Anne hockey star Raygan Kirk.
One of the top young female goaltenders in the country, Kirk just returned from Calgary where she spent the past two weeks with Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team.
Following a two-week selection camp, Kirk was named to the final Team Canada roster that played in a three-game Canada vs. USA exhibition series last week at Calgary.
With three goaltenders on the roster, each of the netminders drew one start in the series and Kirk made the best of her opportunity as she was stupendous for Team Canada, stopping 29 of the 31 shots she faced in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Americans.
"It was an exciting moment to pull on that Team Canada jersey and line up for the national anthem before the game," Kirk said on Monday in an interview with The Carillon after returning home to Ste. Anne from Calgary.
"We had penalty problems in the game, we had 18 PIM. We had the lead, 1-0 going into the third, but they tied it on the powerplay with a couple minutes left in regulation."
Kirk, 17, is getting ready for her grade 12 year in high school attending French immersion at Lorette Collegiate.
Already having a head start on the hockey season following her stint in Calgary with the national team, Kirk is back on the ice with the Eastman Female Midget ‘AAA’ Selects, who are beginning their preparations for the upcoming campaign.
Kirk will be entering her third season in the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League (MFMHL) with the Selects. Last fall she committed to attending Robert Morris University after she graduates from high school next year and will play at the Pittsburgh area school on an NCAA Division 1 scholarship.
Last she season was instrumental in guiding the Selects to their first ever MFMHL championship as she had a 1.81 goals against average and .937 save percentage, along with two shutouts during the regular season.
During the regular season the Selects were a modest 13-12-5, fifth in the league standings. But they then went on a post-season run of epic proportions as they knocked off three teams ahead of them in the standings enroute to the league title, including the first place Winnipeg Avros in the semis and the second place and defending champion Pembina Valley Hawks in the finals.
With the Selects playing their home games in Ste. Anne, Kirk says it was quite something to see the support in their home rink as hundreds turned up to support the Selects through those big games in the semi-finals and finals.
Kirk first received a call from Hockey Canada in June inviting her to the August tryout camp in Calgary. "But I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone, other than my family, until the official news release came out a couple of days before the camp started."
She was one of five goaltenders at the camp and she knew that only three would be kept for the USA series. "That was a very nervous time for me. They called each player down individually to tell them whether they had made the team, I was the very last player called."
She says regardless of whether she would have made that team she says knew that she had done all she could in camp and was satisfied with her performance.
Of course, as has been well-documented, the Ste. Anne water is laced with something that produces an ongoing list of national, international and Olympic female hockey players. Kirk is the fifth girl from Ste. Anne to wear Team Canada colours. She follows in the footsteps of Melanie Gagnon, Jocelyne Larocque and sisters Bailey and Shelby Bram.
She says the Bram sisters have been helping her with some advice both before and during the camp in Calgary.
In the meantime, Hockey Canada will continue to monitor and scout her progress this fall as she returns to the ice with the Selects. She hopes to be one of three goaltenders that is named to the Team Canada roster that will play in a World U18 tournament in late November in Japan.
And judging by her recent performance with Team Canada in Calgary, Kirk probably has an inside track on one of those spots.
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