PA’s Zablocki reflects on U18 Women’s Selection Camp

PRINCE ALBERT, SK, CANADA - APRIL 25, 2023: Fraser Valley Rush vs Regina Rebels during the 2023 Esso Cup in Prince Albert, SK (Photo by Mark Peterson/Hockey Canada)

It’s been an eventful few months for Prince Albert’s Stryker Zablocki.

Since the beginning of the new year, the 16-year-old has taken home the Dana Antal Award as the top rookie in the Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League (SFU18AAAHL), participated in the Esso Cup in her hometown for the Regina Rebels and has recently returned home from the National Women’s U18 selection camp in St. Catharine’s, Ontario.

Zablocki says she enjoyed her time at the camp.

“The experience was phenomenal. I got to meet a lot of amazing people, amazing coaches, trainers, everything like that. The facilities were unreal, and it was a super well-planned event. It was super fun.”

Zablocki was one of only two players from Saskatchewan invited to the camp, joining her Regina Rebels teammate and Moose Jaw product Brooklyn Nimegeers. Nine members of the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship gold medalist team were invited to the development camp.

Zablocki says she came away from the camp with a lot of knowledge and a desire to improve her game.

“The girls I was playing with were super talented and were phenomenal hockey players and I think that just made me realize that there’s still a lot of work I need to put in and that probably covers all aspects of my game. There’s nothing specific but definitely every part of my game needs to be covered again. I think that seeing what all these girls are capable of just made me realize that there’s so much more potential.”

Zablocki even got an opportunity to don the maple leaf as she was one of several players from the selection camp selected to compete in a three-game exhibition series against the United States.

She recorded an assist on Makayla Watson’s second period goal in Canada’s 4-0 win on Aug. 16. Canada would sweep the three-game series also recording a 6-1 win on Aug. 17 and a 5-2 win on Aug. 19.

Zablocki says she enjoyed representing her country in the series.

“It was awesome. It was an amazing experience, and our team really came together, and we ended up winning all three of the games and we did it pretty handily as well. I think everyone on our team was super talented, which helped us out a lot. Overall, we just played better than the USA.”

Zablocki says one aspect of the camp she enjoyed the most was getting to network and form friendships with other players from across the country.

“I didn’t know anybody going into it (and) I came out with a lot of new friends, and it was super cool getting to meet girls from across Canada. it’s just an experience that not everybody gets to have every day and I think that’s super cool that now I get to say some of my best friends are from across the country.”

Now having a taste of competing for Team Canada, Zablocki says she has her sights firmly set on a strong season with the Regina Rebels and to make the team for the 2024 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship in Switzerland from Jan. 6-14.

“My goal would be to make the world team now because that will get selected at the beginning of December and then past that to make the development team and then hopefully one day the senior national team. So now that I’ve been at the U18 level, it makes me realize that those goals are not too far out of reach. I just want to keep working hard and keep on developing.”

Zablocki will make her first appearance in Prince Albert against the Northern Bears on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, at the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 1 p.m.