Teen has Olympic chance she thought would be 4 years away

AP News
Posted: Dec 14, 2017 5:48 AM
Teen has Olympic chance she thought would be 4 years away

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (AP) — Being cut from any team is never easy. Luckily for Cayla Barnes, she had plenty to take her mind off her disappointment at being dropped from the U.S. women's national hockey team.

First, she graduated from high school. Then, she headed off to Boston College, where she played five games with the Eagles.

A call in late October changed everything.

Days after watching the U.S. women lose 5-1 to Canada in Boston on Oct. 25 , Barnes learned she was moving from the bleachers to the bench as a call-up to the national team with the chance to earn a roster spot for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The defender, who will turn 19 in January, quickly withdrew from college to become the U.S. team's youngest player, chasing an opportunity that had seemed four years away.

"Once I got cut, they said be ready, keep training, so that was always in the back of my mind," Barnes said. "I wasn't expecting the call at all. ... This was completely out of the blue for me."

The 5-foot-1, 145-pound native of Eastvale, California, had to alert her parents, notify her coaches at Boston College and leave school to join the national team training in Florida.

"My coaches are really supportive, and I was so excited to come and join this team," Barnes said. "Though they've been hectic, the past ... weeks, they've been really exciting and really fun."

Barnes helped the U.S. win the last three under-18 women's world championships, and she also played with the U.S. women's national team for a couple of games against Canada in December 2016. A strong skater with good vision on the ice, Barnes wasted no time showing why USA Hockey wanted her on the national team.

She debuted at the Four Nations Cup and scored a power-play goal in the first period of her first game, an 8-2 win over Finland on Nov. 7 .

"For somebody that's young and just joined the team to show that kind of patience ... that's why she's here," U.S. coach Robb Stauber said.

Barnes followed up a night later with her second goal in two games, scoring on another power play in the first period of a %href_on(file: