A pair of sisters from Antigonish County has achieved another milestone in their blossoming hockey careers.
Ella and Kara MacLean have been selected to skate for Team Nova Scotia in the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
“It is going to be an honour for us to represent our province,” Ella, 17, said.
She noted she has received great feedback from people about their unforgettable experiences as athletes in the Games.
“We are excited to have the chance to see [what it’s like] and we expect it to be as exciting as everyone has been telling me,” Ella added.
Kara, 15, described receiving the honour as “so cool.”
“I think it is going to be amazing,” she said.
And, unlike most athletes, they will be able to share those memorable moments at a whole other level. The sisters agreed playing together in the Games will make the opportunity extra special.
The sisters and their Team Nova Scotia teammates will participate in a four-day training camp, including an exhibition game, over the Christmas holidays.
“I am going to focus on playing a defensive role,” Ella said, when asked about what she hopes to bring to Team Nova Scotia.
Known for her size, strength and offensive capabilities, including a heavy shot from the blue line, Ella noted she will try to take advantage of scoring opportunities when they arise.
“I think I can provide my work ethic and ability to make plays,” Kara said.
She will be building on what is a growing reputation as an offensive talent, with the ability not only to score, but also to set-up her teammates.
Earning a spot on Team Nova Scotia was the latest highlight of what has been a busy – and thrilling – few months for the daughters of Sean and Laura Lee MacLean.
Late last summer, Kara headed to Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a renowned preparatory school in Fairbault, Minnesota, whose alumni includes the likes of Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon.
“It was a big decision,” the Grade 10 student said, noting the challenge of moving so far away from home and her family.
“But, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up and I really wanted to go.”
Kara added having ice time every day, along with improved training opportunities, has been beneficial.
She noted the style of play is also “a little bit different.”
“It has been as great as I could have hoped,” Kara said of her Shattuck-St. Mary’s experience.
In mid-November, back at the Antigonish Arena – where the sisters starting playing the sport they love – Ella became a member of the University of Maine Black Bears.
Although she committed a couple years ago, on this national signing day for players heading to the NCAA, she signed on to take her skills to Orono, Maine next fall.
“I am ready to start a new chapter and take on that challenge,” Ella, who is in her second season with the Northern Subway Selects of the Nova Scotia Female Midget ‘AAA’ Hockey League, said.
Noting there is some nervousness about taking that next step, she added, she is looking forward to the experience – both on and off the ice, including training opportunities – “at a whole different level.”
“The pace of the game will be that much faster,” Ella, who will receive a full five-year academic and athletic scholarship, said of her upcoming move to the varsity level south of the border.
Leading up to that move, she noted she will continue to work on improving at every level, including her explosiveness.
“I am looking forward to the challenge,” she said.
When they hit the ice later this winter for the Canada Games, it will not be the first time the sisters have skated together on the national stage.
As members of the Northern Subway Selects, the played in the 2018 Esso Cup, a tournament that crowns the Canada champions in female midget ‘AAA’ hockey.
There are also familiar faces with the Hockey Nova Scotia program, having donned the blue and white on several occasions.
And, closer to home, they laced up the blades with the Antigonish Minor Hockey Association; not to mention their first strides on the family rink.
The next stop on the hockey road they are travelling – one they have often shared – is Red Deer, Alberta, which will host the Games, from Feb. 15 to Mar 3.
“It is going to be a lot of fun,” Kara said, as the sisters shared a smile.
For more information about Team Nova Scotia, visit teamnovascotia.ca