In what may become a strange twist of fate, Canadian women’s hockey player Kelly Babstock has been invited to USA Hockey’s Training Camp for the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championships. While Babstock has not yet qualified for the U.S. roster, the move is certainly raising eyebrows north of the border.
Having grown up in Mississauga, Ontario, Babstock is a full status Native North American with family roots in Wikwemikong, Ontario. Based on her unique status, she is allowed the opportunity to compete with the U.S. team.
Having gained American citizenship in December 2012, Babstock is one of 14 college players invited to the USA Hockey camp. The last time that such a prominent Canadian donned the USA jersey was when Brett Hull debuted with the U.S. at the 1991 Canada Cup. Just like Hull, Babstock was in a position where there was no room for her on a Canadian roster.
On April 16, 2009, she was one of 44 players invited to the Canadian under-18 national team selection camp. Despite being considered one of the best young Canadian hockey players, she was not named to the final roster.
In the summer of 2011, she was invited to attend Hockey Canada’s summer training camp for the under-22 national team. Players from said camp would be named to the Canadian contingent competing at the 2012 Meco Cup. Despite a 59-point season as a rookie with Quinnipiac in 2010-11, Babstock was left off the roster, and the result was a bronze medal for Canada.
Despite a 2011-12 season that saw Babstock become the Quinnipiac Bobcats' all-time leading scorer (accumulating 75 points in her first 50 career games), not being named to the 2012 Meco Cup roster seemed to signal the end of a potential career with the Canadian squad.
Canada’s loss was certainly the United States’ gain. Although she was not part of the gold medal-winning U.S. roster at the November 2012 Four Nations Cup, she certainly was held in high regard by USA Hockey. In December 2012, she was named to the U.S. Women’s National Winter Camp in Blaine, Minnesota. One of only 36 players named to the prestigious camp, Babstock participated with Team Blue.
Her performance in Minnesota obviously made an impression, as she was one of 28 players who gained invitations to the 2013 Women’s Worlds training camp. If she were to be overlooked for the U.S. roster as she was in past Canadian training camps, the exclusion would be nothing short of tragic for such a prodigious player.
Should Babstock find her way onto the U.S. roster, it would certainly add excitement to an already emotional 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds. The contest will be held in Ottawa, Ontario (the city that hosted the first Women’s Worlds in 1990), and Canada has never lost a Women’s Worlds on home soil.
If a Canadian woman were to help lead the United States to a gold medal on Canadian soil, it would be a great source of controversy in many Canadian hockey circles. With Babstock having already been featured in Sports Illustrated, the irony would not be lost on Canadian fans if she were to be again featured in the popular periodical, this time as part of a gold medal-winning United States squad.
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