The doors seem to keep opening for Halli Krzyzaniak.
And it's all come honestly for the former Neepawa Minor Hockey star.
Krzyzaniak spent countless hours on the ice growing up, moved away from home early to partake in the Program of Excellence in B.C. in the latter years of her high school grades, and has continued to put in the time to perfect her craft, even as she's continued to meet success and build a name for herself.
Now, just a few months after graduating high school, all that hard work culminated into an opportunity to play alongside some of the world's best female hockey players at the centralization weekend with Canada's National Women's Team in Calgary, Alb. as the team prepares for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“The experience was amazing,” an excited Krzyzaniak explained. “I was really happy with how I did at my first senior camp.”
Krzyzaniak had originally been the youngest defenseman selected as one of 40 players to Canada's National Women's Development Team selection camp for Under-22 players from Aug. 10-18.
“Being selected to the U22 tryout was a huge honour in itself,” Krzyzaniak said. “I was prepared to soak in all the information I could from the older U22 girls who have been around for a couple years.”
After having success with her U22 counterparts, Krzyzaniak was one of only 13 players from that camp selected to move on to the National team's camp.
Getting on the ice with some of the sport's most infamous names – including the likes of Hayley Wickenheiser – was a thrill of a lifetime for the Neepawa product.
“At first I was so giddy, I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face,” Krzyzaniak explained. “To be in the dressing room and run through drills with these girls that I have idolized since I was young was surreal.”
Her time with the national team included running through drills as well as playing in three intrasquad games.
And, after getting over the opportunity in itself, Krzyzaniak noticed that while the game quality was certainly higher, the other skaters were all in a similar boat as herself.
“I noticed the pace got quicker, practices got harder, and the girls got stronger. Everything at that level moves a bist faster and you have to respect your opponent to a higher extent because of their skill and strength,” she admitted.
“But, once things settled in, you kind of realize the other skaters aren't much different than you are, other than in terms of experience. They go out and work their butts off every day, and they still make mistakes, which was refreshing.”
Krzyzaniak has now headed south to take in her first year of university at the University of North Dakota where she will be splitting her time between schooling and hockey with the school's storied Division 1 squad.
But she certainly won't be forgetting her time with the National squad anytime soon, taking the lessons she learned at the centralization weekend with her.
“I'm so thankful to have been able to really see and understand what it takes to be an Olympian and be immersed in the process,” Krzyzaniak concluded. “It was great to be able to compare myself to the best players in the country and get a concrete idea of where I need to be at.”