Portage's Oceane Asham is competing for the chance to represent her country in Wisconsin for the 2022 IIHF U18 Women's World Championship.
The highly-skilled local forward was named to Team Canada's U18 Female Top 40 Camp roster and is the only Manitoban to get an invitation. Asham says she's been working her whole life to represent her country and notes she's never been more proud of herself.
"I was crying when I found out," Asham continues. "It's actually crazy that I'm the only Manitoban going, so it's a big honour for me. That honestly makes me a little nervous because I want to represent Manitoba well, but I also want to represent my family as well. They've done so much for me, and I honestly wouldn't be here without my mom and my dad."
The daughter of former NHL player Arron Asham says she's wanted to wear the Maple Leaf on her jersey for as long as she can remember.
"I've been dreaming about this since I put on skates when I was two-years-old," says Asham. "My biggest thing when putting on that Maple Leaf is going to be the respect I have, obviously for Canada, but also for my former teammates, my coaches, and my parents. I'm going to work my hardest, and do the best that I can to try and make this team."
The former Balmoral Hall Blazer has played for Team Manitoba a number of times, becoming a leader among her age group and now hopes to take that next leap. Asham is currently on the ice in Calgary as the camp began on Tuesday and runs until Sunday. She describes what she is looking to showcase for the national team's coaching staff.
"I know they know that I have skill, they've seen me play. So, I think the biggest thing is showing that in those third periods, I will be a person they can rely on. I can be someone who can be put out for those hard minutes, be put out in those tough times, and also be someone my teammates can lean on. I'm going to be a supporter, be a leader, and be the best person I can be and never change for anyone else."
Asham finished her final season at Balmoral Hall with over a point per contest and is coming off a gold medal win with Team Manitoba at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship. She notes they went undefeated, but faced heavy adversity in the final when they had to score three goals in the last ten minutes of action.
"I'll be honest, I had doubts," Asham explains. "I know I shouldn't say that as a leader, but I was honestly a little nervous. As soon as we got the first goal though, the gates were open, and I knew we were going to start scoring. I ended up getting our second goal (tying the game) and we ended up scoring again with 16.9 seconds left. It was a surreal feeling."
The Portager believes this experience will help her put her best foot forward for the next few days as she looks to crack Team Canada's roster. The Canadian U18 Female Team will be in Wisconsin from June 6-13 taking on the best the world has to offer.