Kelowna’s Gracie Graham is a gold medal winner.
The 17-year-old brought home the gold with Hockey Canada at the U18 World Hockey Championships in Österlund, Sweden with a 10-0 win against the hometown team in the finals on Sunday, Jan. 15.
“Representing my country has always been a dream of mine,” Graham told Capital News. “Having the Canadian jersey on, having that opportunity was really an experience of a lifetime and a dream come true.”
It was a list of firsts, as it was her first time wearing the maple leaf for Team Canada and her first time travelling overseas.
“Everything was exactly how I imagined, I wouldn’t do anything different than what had happened,” said Graham. “I’m really grateful and so excited that I got to have that experience.”
Canada cruised through the tournament, going 5-0 and outscoring their opponents 28-5. In the finals, Canada scored early and often on route to their seventh gold medal at the tournament.
“It almost seemed like it wasn’t real,” said Graham. “Everyone dreams of winning a gold medal but how often does it really happen? When that buzzer went off, I think everyone was so excited and grateful that we got to experience that together as a team.”
Through the five games, Graham had three points (one goal, two assists) in the tournament.
In the aftermath of the game and the celebration, Graham talked to her family when she was back at the hotel, explaining how proud they were of her and how excited they are. Part of her family is her brother Max, who plays for the Kelowna Rockets.
“He was just so proud of me,” said Graham. “He’s been one of my biggest role models growing up, especially in my hockey career so just having him by my side and having the confidence in me is something I’m really grateful for.”
Graham is back at home now and with her team at Rink Hockey Academy (RHA), and told Capital News her training will continue with the goal to make the team again next year.
The Kelowna resident, who’s been skating since she was three years old, says it’s still settling in that she’s a gold medal winner.
“I think it’s a dream come true, I don’t even have the words for it.”