Hillman, Leach enjoy summer on ice

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 18, 2002

Some kids go to summer camp.

A fortunate few get to go to Canada and play hockey, like Laura Hillman and Amy Leach.

An even more fortunate few get to win a championship. They did that too.

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Hillman and Leach were members of the Minnesota Junior Stars team that won the Bantam Girls’ championship in the 20th Annual National All-Star Hockey Super Series in July at Burnaby 8 Rinks and the Great Pacific Forum in Vancouver, B.C.

Hillman, who will be a freshman at Albert Lea High School, participated in the invitational-only event for the third year in a row. Her team won the tournament her first year and placed second last year, when she was the top scorer in her division with six goals and seven assists.

This year, Hillman had two goals and two assists in Canada while Leach, who will be a sophomore at ALHS, netted one goal.

The Junior Stars’ division included five teams and the other four were from Canada.

In round-robin play, the Junior Stars defeated NASH Pacific 3-2, fell 9-3 to the Southern Alberta Selects, topped the Victoria Island Rockets 5-1 and downed Van Ice of Vancouver 3-2. In the championship round, the team defeated Van Ice 5-2 and, in the title game, avenged the loss to Southern Alberta with an 8-3 triumph.

The championship game was played at the Great Pacific Forum, which with eight rinks is the largest sheet of ice in the world.

Both Hillman and Leach said the enjoyed the experience and, with Canada’s more physical style of play, felt they helped prepare themselves better for the upcoming high school season.

&uot;It makes me more aggressive when I play hockey back here,&uot; said Hillman, who added that it was an honor to be chosen to play.

Leach was especially pleased because it was her first opportunity to play for a select team.

&uot;I felt honored playing,&uot; said Leach. &uot;I met a lot of people, and it’s fun meeting people from a lot of different places and going back and meeting them again the next year. If asked, I’d definitely go back.&uot;

Both girls added that the coaching was outstanding, with aspects that can’t be matched at the local level. They’ll find out next spring if they’re invited back next year.

Hillman and Leach also said the entire experience &045; from hockey to sight-seeing in what they called beautiful country &045; was something they won’t soon forget.

&uot;Overall, throughout the week, you just have a blast doing everything,&uot; said Hillman. &uot;You’re never bored.&uot;