Madison Beck excitedly packed her bags, looking forward to representing the South Shore at one of the world’s most important hockey tournaments.
The 17-year-old Lunenburg teen is in Japan for the 2019 IIHF under-18 women’s world championship, where she is a goalie for Canada’s national women’s under-18 team.
Beck tried out for the Canadian team last summer in Calgary and stayed for a special session where she played against the United States. But it wasn’t until Dec. 10 that she finally received an answer, and Beck said it was nerve wracking waiting for that phone call.
“They started to say ‘Congratulations’ but I just cut them off and said ‘Oh my gosh, are you serious?’” said Beck. “I called my parents right away, and they were so shocked, they started crying.”
She flew to British Columbia on Dec. 28 for a few days of training before leaving for Japan on Tuesday. The under-18 women’s worlds begin on Saturday with Canada playing Sweden (noon AT) in Obihiro, a city on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
“I’m really excited to see all of the culture. You don’t get to travel somewhere like Japan very often,” said Beck. “I can’t wait to soak everything in.”
The schedule also has Canada playing the United States on Monday (1:30 p.m.) and Russia on Tuesday (noon) to finish the preliminary round. The tournament wraps up with the gold medal game on Sunday, Jan. 13.
If the Canadian team wins, it will be its first gold medal at the IIHF U18 women's world championship since 2014 — Canada won bronze in 2018.
Beck started playing hockey when she was six years old in an attempt to copy her hockey-playing brother, who was 11. She could barely skate at first, but powered through and insisted she wanted to be a goalie just a year and half into her hockey career.
“They put me in for one game and we lost 21-0,” laughed Beck.
“My parents thought I’d come off the ice crying and saying I hated it, but I had a huge smile.
“I loved it.”
Beck said there’s nothing like the rush after a save and she likes playing the crucial role in whether her team wins or loses.
“If you can keep the puck out, you’re giving your team a really good chance of winning,” said Beck. “There’s a lot of pressure in big games or breakaways or shootouts, but you just have to take a deep breath and be as confident as you can.”
She was just 14 years old when she moved to New Brunswick to attend Rothesay Netherwood School and play hockey in the North American Prep Hockey Association.
“I jumped at the chance because going away to play hockey was something on the list of hockey goals I’d made when I was eight,” said Beck. “It was hard to leave my family, but it helped to be able to see them every day on FaceTime.”
She stayed in New Brunswick for two years, and is now halfway through her second year at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire. Beck is in Grade 11 and plays on St. Paul’s varsity girls hockey team, but will be excused from classes while she’s on the other side of the world working for a gold medal.
“This was a huge dream I’d put out there when I was a kid, so to be able to achieve it feels incredible. I’m so honoured to be able to represent Canada, Nova Scotia and Lunenburg,” said Beck. “Lunenburg is my home. It’s where I grew up and started playing hockey, so this just means the world to me.”