When the globe’s top ringette players converge in Burnaby for the 2019 World Ringette Championships this fall, Surrey’s Kiana Heska will be on “home” ice as the lone B.C.-based athlete on Canada’s junior national team.
Heska, a 19-year-old goaltender and lifelong Guildford-area resident, was named to the 22-woman squad late last month, following a five-day selection camp in Ottawa.
“This is a diverse group of young Canadians, from seven provinces, who are ready to prepare themselves in their pursuit of a world championship.”
It’s expected that six International Ringette Federation member countries will compete at the world championships, including Canada, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Sweden and the U.S. Following the last event in Mississauga, Canada holds the junior world title, and Finland holds the senior world title.
Ringette Canada is pleased to announce its junior national team roster that will compete at the 2019 World Ringette Championships taking place in #Burnaby, BC from November 25-30, 2019 – https://t.co/IYJIso0M0I#Ringette #TeamCanada #Sport #Canada pic.twitter.com/nW8ROG7kL2
— Ringette Canada (@ringettecanada) May 21, 2019
In Burnaby, Heska and the others will battle for the world championship from Nov. 25 to 30, following a pair of training camps – first in Sherwood Park at the end of August and then in Burnaby in mid-October.
Heska is among three goaltenders on Canada’s junior national team.
“It’s heartwarming and humbling to know that I’ll get to represent my country,” Heska told the Now-Leader this week.
“Just getting the invitation (to the selection camp) was exciting news,” she added, “and then to go there and find out I made the team, it was even more exciting. I wasn’t going in expecting anything, I just went there to do my best, let the cards fall and let the coaches make the decision.”
In February, she wore Team B.C. colours during the Canada Winter Games tournament in Red Deer, and was in net for the squad’s 6-4 loss to Team Manitoba in the bronze-medal game.
Heska, a Guildford Park Secondary grad, has played ringette since age seven.
“I played both (ringette and hockey) for a long time, then switched to hockey for a couple years, only hockey, and then I went back to ringette only after that, about two years ago,” she explained.
She didn’t start out as a goaltender.
“I had to play player growing up, because my parents wanted me to learn to skate first, and I begged and pleaded them (to play goaltender) until they finally said yes,” Heska said with a laugh. “I always thought it was just a cool spot to be, and it looked fun to make the big saves.”
In a bio posted to Ringette B.C.’s Canada Winter Games page, Heska says her off-ice hobbies include training dogs in agility, teaching kids skating, reffing hockey, walking on the beach and having campfires.
“I am also attending Douglas College with the intention to pursue a career in either teaching or counselling,” she posted, before quoting former Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo: “I don’t fear stopping a 100 mph slap shot. I fear not stopping it.”
Heska said she’s eager to represent Canada – and B.C. – at the world championships in Burnaby.
“The tournament is just 15 minutes from home,” she noted. “It’d be cool to travel to Europe or somewhere to play, but it’s really cool to have the event so close to home, too.”
Asked if she’d like to add anything about herself, Heska offered this in an email.
“If it wasn’t for all my coaches, family and friends’ support over the years in all the sports I played, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’d like to express my appreciation and thank them for everything they’ve done for me.”
In addition to Heska, the other athletes on Canada’s junior national ringette team are Emilie Cunial (from Beaconsfield, QC), Marie-Ève Dubé (Blainville, QC), Lydia Duncan (Mitchell, ON), Mégane Fortin (Blainville, QC), Meghan Hanton-Fong (Waterloo, ON), Taylor Hildebrand (Oak Bluff, MB), Emma Kelly (Nepean, ON), Grace MacKenzie (Stillwater Lake, NS), Maddie MacLean (St. Jacobs, ON), Jasmine Ménard (Gatineau, QC), Jasmina Morroni (Blainville, QC), Sara Plouffe (Gatineau, QC), Emily Power (Mississauga, ON), Ariane Sagala (Notre-Dame-De-L’Île-Perrot, QC), Ann Sauve (Strathmore, AB), Torrie Shennan (Edmonton, AB), Britney Snowdon (Moncton, NB), Laura Soper (Mississauga, ON), Brett Van Nieuw Amerongen (La Salle, MB), Julie Vandal (Gatineau, QC) and Marla Wheeler (Dalemead, AB).