Team Newfoundland and Labrador’s female hockey team will have a Clarenville goaltender making saves for them at the Canada Winter Games this week, with Rachel Dean set to leave with her U18 team on Saturday, Feb. 23 for Red Deer, Alta.
Dean will play in a pregame camp in St. John’s on Feb. 21-22 as a warm-up for the national stage.
Playing for her province on a large scale is a great accomplishment, one that’s been added to her list of accolades, including playing in minor hockey, ‘AAA’ hockey and for Team NL in her hockey career. She travelled to Boston for the Boston Beantown Classic last year. She also earned a silver medal at a tournament in Moncton, N.B. in October.
Dean tried out for last April at the High Performance Camp in Paradise, at only 14 years-old, for the U16 Team NL. After the tryout, she was asked to try out for the U18 team, ensuring if she didn’t make the cut for the overage team, she would automatically have a spot on the U16 team.
She went on to survive the first U18 cut and compete for a spot in Corner Brook for a week in August. Within a few days, she had received her confirmation that she’d be with the U18 team at the 2019 Canada Winter Games team.
Deidre Patey of Clarenville, is the director of operations for the U18 team. She’s been involved in female hockey for six years on the provincial level, having attended the previous Canada Winter Games in 2015 in Prince George, B.C.
She says she’s glad to see the players compete on perhaps the biggest stage they will ever play.
Patey told The Packet it’s the girls themselves, players like Dean, who make it all worthwhile for her. She loves seeing the girls progress both as players and people.
She says there’s a reason why they asked Dean to try out for the upper age group, despite her age.
“She’s a phenomenal little goalie,” said Patey.
Praising the young netminder, Patey called Dean a calm player who can handle pressure and get in her own zone before games.
Dean says she’s looking forward to the competition at the Games, while not forgetting about the importance of the valuable experience it presents, on and off the ice.
“I’m most looking forward to competing at the highest level of hockey that I can play for my age, and making lots of new friendships along the way,” said Dean.
Upon arrival, Team NL’s schedule includes games in pool C against Northwest Territories, P.E.I, New Brunswick and Yukon, as well as an Alan Doyle concert.
Patey says their goal will be to advance to pool B for the tournament.
Their first game will be on Sunday, Feb. 23, against Yukon.