Bechard answers Canada's call

WES GILBERTSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

Hearsay suggests Kelly Bechard's past caught up with her yesterday at Father David Bauer Arena, where she celebrated her 30th birthday on the ice at a national women's team evaluation camp.

Bechard was conducting a post-practice interview when teammates Gillian Apps and Gillian Ferrari snuck up from behind and presented her with a pair of shaving cream pies -- the type of gift Hockey Canada officials and other players recall Bechard doling out before.

After a few choice words and a long shower, the Calgarian forward insisted, "it's always good to be with your friends on your birthday."

After all, that wasn't the initial plan. Until Mississauga Aeros winger Lara Perks bowed out due to an injury a couple weeks back, Bechard's name wasn't on the roster for the evaluation camp, which kicks into high gear tonight with an exhibition game against the Calgary Midget AAA Royals (7:30 p.m., Father David Bauer Arena).

The seven-day training session is one of three opportunities for Team Canada hopefuls to win a spot on the roster for the world championship, April 4-13 in Harbin, China.

For Bechard, a regular with the Olympic Oval X-Treme, scoring a late invitation to camp was no big deal.

She donned the maple leaf at November's Four Nations Cup and was satisfied with her performance but still jumped at a second shot to impress the national team brass.

"Any chance you get to show what you can bring to the team, you have to take advantage of," Bechard said.

"At the same time, you can't really focus too much on the evaluations. You just have to play and, you know, do your best."

Her playing resume -- she has notched 23 goals and 55 points and won 13 gold medals in Canadian colours -- is proof the crafty forward is always on the radar.

Bechard has already suited up for five world championships but knows she must earn her invite to a sixth.

"I feel like there's always people pushing for your spot, and that's what grows the sport, so, like anything, it just keeps pushing the bar higher," Bechard said.

"I don't think you should ever take wearing the jersey for granted. It's something very special that not a lot of people get to do. It's a pretty great feeling to be Canadian and to play hockey for your country."


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