Erin Ambrose doesn’t do yoga.
Pilates isn’t her thing either and she doesn’t drink green tea. You won’t catch her in a bubble bath listening to soft music surrounded by glowing candles.
When Ambrose needs to relax and unwind to get away from the stresses of everyday life, the 15-year-old turns to what she knows best.
“I’ve always seen hockey as the ultimate getaway,” Ambrose says. “Everything is just so much better out on the ice, it’s kind of like a happiness. Even when you’re not having a good game, it just gets the anger out of you; I could honestly play forever.”
Ambrose has accomplished more by the age of 15 than most young players do in a career, so naturally she never wants the ride she’s on to end.
She first picked up a hockey stick at age five and battles with her older sister Tory ensued. Ambrose loved the game like nothing else and before long she was playing hockey with the boys.
At age 11 she moved from AA to AAA and in her second season she was named team captain. That was when the hockey world took notice that Ambrose wasn’t the girl, she was that girl, as in the one you know is going to make something of herself.
It wasn’t until Ambrose made the jump to women’s hockey as a 14-year-old in 2008 that she realized she could really play. She views playing for Ontario Blue at the 2008 National Women’s Under-18 Championship as the first big step of her young career.
Ambrose appeared in all five games, helping Ontario Blue to a fourth place finish in Napanee, Ont. She turned a lot of heads along the way and when it came time for Hockey Canada to send out invitations for Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team this year, naturally one was addressed to her.
After surviving the selection camp, Ambrose was one of the seven defencemen left standing and earned a spot on the final roster, making her just the second 15-year-old (after teammate Kaleigh Fratkin) to suit up for the under-18 side.
Don’t forget, she still can’t drive herself to the rink.
“What sets her apart from others is that she just sees everything,” said head coach Dan Church. “She’s one of the rare players who would probably notice someone with a hotdog in the stands – her vision of the game is very broad and she sees things happening before they happen.”
Like a chess grandmaster, Ambrose is always a few steps ahead of the opposition. Add that to the fact that she is wildly mature beyond her years, asks more questions than a curious toddler and absorbs information like a sponge, and understanding how this 15-year-old has achieved so much at such a young age becomes a little easier.
“I think that she has the potential to be one of the best defenders in the country eventually,” added Church.
With two goals and an assist during a three-game exhibition series against the United States in Calgary in late August, Team Canada’s youngest player surprised even herself. In addition to being a shutdown defenceman who quarterbacks the power play and lives to kill penalties, Ambrose is becoming more of an offensive player.
“Last year I had the hardest time scoring, I think I scored three goals the entire year and then to go out and score with that jersey on was great,” said Ambrose. “That was important for me.”
It has almost come to the point where Ambrose can be counted on in any situation in a game. Church has realized this and it’s safe to assume the coaching staff for the Toronto Aeros, her Provincial Women's Hockey League team in Ontario, knows it as well.
For Ambrose to reach the top in hockey, she’ll have to continue growing as a player for another five years until the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, the ultimate dream for any women’s hockey player.
“My biggest goal is to end up singing our national anthem on the blueline with an Olympic gold medal around my neck,” she says. “That is the ultimate goal for me and hopefully it comes in 2014, that’s what I’m aiming for.
“I’ve made that my goal so everyday until then is training day.”
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