Dal Tiger to play hockey in Winter Universiade

Student heads to Turkey on Sunday to compete in international tournament

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This will be the first time that Jocelyn LeBlanc has represented Canada in an international tournament. (Photo: Tim van der Kooi)

Jocelyn LeBlanc was five years old when she knew she wanted to play hockey. She came to this conclusion after watching a game during a women's national hockey tournament in Moncton.

Nearly 16 years later, LeBlanc is in a position to inspire other young girls to play hockey, as she will represent Canada's national women's hockey team at the 25th Winter Universiade in Turkey.

"I'm looking forward to helping out the team however I can and whatever role they want me to play I will fill it," says LeBlanc, a fourth-year kinesiology student at Dalhousie University, from Moncton, N.B.

"I'm just happy to be on the team."


Enlarge Map
This map shows the location of the universities and players representing Canada at the Winter Universiade in Turkey.

The Dalhousie Tigers' forward found out she was named to the 24-player roster when she was called into her head coach's office in September.

The Winter Universiade brings together university athletes from 57 countries every two years. Women's hockey was not recognized as an offical sport of this competition until 2009. Canada beat out five other countries to become the very first female hockey champions. LeBlanc, the first and only Dalhousie student to play in the Winter Universiade, hopes that she can help Canada keep that title from its toughest competition, the United States, who did not put in a team for the 2009 Winter Universiade.

"We want to win gold and repeat as champions, but we know it's going to be tough," says LeBlanc.

Team Canada will only have three days to practice as a team before they begin their week-and-a-half long schedule against Finland on Jan. 27. LeBlanc says she has played with many of the players before so she doesn't think it will take long for the team to get along on and off the ice.

Tigers sprint toward playoffs

LeBlanc's departure means that she will miss four of the last nine games for the Dalhousie Tigers during their run for an Atlantic University Sport (AUS) playoff spot. The Tigers are currently third in the AUS standings with 17 points, but this could easily change. The Tigers could jeapardize their position in the playoffs with a couple of losses since three teams are within three points of them.

"It's definitely going to be hard to leave them, but I'm sure they'll pick up the slack and get some wins while I'm gone," says LeBlanc.

Lesley Jordan, head coach of the Tigers, says LeBlanc has been selected for Canada's team because of her leadership and her strong work ethic during the past four years with the Tigers. Last season, LeBlanc was named as an AUS first team all-star and finished second in league points. This season, the Tigers' assistant captain leads the team with 16 points in 13 games.

"We're going to miss her leadership in the dressing room and her play on the ice," says Jordan. "But I know she will benefit from this experience and other players will have an opportunity to step up in her absence."

LeBlanc says she is not worried about the Tigers' standing in the league and is going to focus on representing Canada with her first trip outside of North America.

"It's definitely going to be a culture shock for sure," she said.

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