Rookies pushing through Hockey Canada bootcamp

One week left and there are no casualties from Hockey Canada’s women’s national team bootcamp.

JON TAYLOR

JON TAYLOR

One week left and there are no casualties from Hockey Canada’s women’s national team bootcamp.

Coach Dan Church said on Wednesday that “no one is going to die and they will all come out stronger.”

Since their arrival on May 27, players have been pushed hard, especially rookies.

Jenelle Kohanchuck said what she has gone through in the camp is something she hasn’t experienced before.  Kohanchuck said lots of repetition is involved. It requires work, but the former Boston University Terrier has enjoyed it while getting to know her teammates better.

“At the end of the day, I’m wanting to just go to sleep right away,” she said. “Tiring and exhausting, but we get through it.”

Kohanchuck said people in the city have been nice to the players, waving to them on the beach and cheering Go Canada Go. “It’s inspired and motivated just to know that people are behind us,” she said.

On Wednesday, during their scrimmage, they attracted the attention of Vees super fan Jon Taylor.

“He’s thrilled,” said Taylor’s caretaker Sandra Wright of meeting some of the players. “He met Hayley Wickenheiser and got her autograph. He was excited to meet them. He’s been to watch a couple of their practices.”

Taylor, who is disabled, is a big hockey fan and just loves being near the people connected to the game.

“If it’s pretty girls playing it’s even better,” said Wright. Kohanchuck prepared herself for the bootcamp having heard stories about it and how the players are going non-stop.

“Since I have been here and working with the staff and the team, I feel myself incredibly in shape more than what I was,” said Kohanchuck. “I feel stronger, faster. Everything has been improving.”

Bailey Bram joked that she is barely surviving. Their days begin at 7 a.m. and go until 8:30 or 9 p.m.

Among the activities pushing the players mentally and physically are mountain biking treks to Oliver on trails, highway and some paths. There are also hill sprints.

“When you get to the top, you are like how much further do I have to go,” said Bram, who completed a five-year career with the Mercyhurst Lakers.

Church said the rookies have been bringing energy and enthusiam.

“I think they are fueling the fire of a lot of the veteran players,” he said. “They need to do that. That’s one of the roles that the younger players bring to our team. The inspiration to our more veteran players.”

Church said the camp has gone great and Penticton has been treating them well.

“Being here at the Okanagan Hockey Acadmey is a great location,” he said.

He has also been impressed with the weight room at Okanagan College, which they use in the afternoon.

“They have a phenomenal gym there,” he said. “We are pretty much the only ones in there with not a lot of classes going on. There’s one guy that comes to run the treadmill every once in a while. They have top rate equipment. It was  good relationship for us to build. They have been gracious hosts for us.”