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Adzija at world U18 hockey

 

  Adzija living her hockey dream

 

   St. Thomas native with Team Canada at U18 world tournament

 

  Thursday, January 4, 2018

Lexie Adzija

  Lexie Adzija, from St. Thomas, will be playing for Team Canada at the IIHF U18 women's world hockey championships, January 6-13, in Dmitrov, Russia. (photo / courtesy (@88Adzija) Lexie Adzija)

By Rob J. Ross

ST. THOMAS - When Lexie Adzija pulls on her Team Canada jersey she is no longer dreaming.

The 17-year old from St. Thomas will be skating for her country at a world championship.

Adzija was selected to Team Canada, in late November, for the 2018 IIHF under-18 (U18) women’s world hockey championship, in Dmitrov, Russia, January 6-13.

“When I got a call, so many nerves went through me. I picked it up and it was the coach and she said, congratulations, you’ve been selected,” said Lexie, the daughter of Rob and Mandy Adzija. “That moment, I don’t think I could describe with words. It’s something I really dreamed of since I watched the 2010 Olympics.

“It has been my goal for as long as I can remember.”

Championship Schedule.

Lexie Adzija put herself at the forefront of Team Canada’s radar during the National U18 championship, in Quebec City, in November, playing on the top line for Team Ontario Red. The team won gold, with Adzija producing six goals and four assists, in 10 games.

Adzija also won National gold with Team Ontario Red, in 2016.

Her play with the Oakville Hornets, of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League, averaging a point per game over her career, initially caught of the interest of Team Canada scouts. Adzija also took part in a three game series between Canada and the U.S., in Lake Placid, N.Y., last August.

In 2016, Adzija was invited to Team Canada's U18 camp as a 16-year old but wasn’t selected.

“I think the big thing is my work ethic and my leadership on and off of the ice. I got cut last year, so bouncing back, being able to be resilient and have the work ethic to bounce back after that and come out stronger,” said Adzija. “I’ve learned that there is a ton of skilled players and playing with elite players can push you. Every little thing counts. The extra time you get on the ice, even 10 minutes to practice your shot, or stick-handling, can make a difference.”

As the head coach for both the Oakville Hornets and Team Ontario Red’s gold medal team, Bradi Cochrane has watched Adzija’s growth for the past two years, from the time Adzija switched high schools, leaving Parkside Collegiate Institute in St. Thomas, for Appleby College, in Oakville.

“She’s a kid who leads by example in terms of her work ethic and her commitment off ice in the gym. She has that competitiveness in practice and brings it to the game,” Cochrane said. “Her energy is very high. There is never a time I’ve had to ask her to compete harder. She never takes a shift off. She’s tenacious on the puck, back-checks, fore-checks hard. She’s just a powerful, powerful forward.”

At 5’-10, almost 170 pounds, Adzija uses her size to her advantage. In 100 career PWHL games, entering the 2017/18 season, Adzija potted 54 goals and assisted on 51 more. Following a self-described ‘slump for a little bit,” early this season, Adzija had 10 goals and eight assists, before leaving for Team Canada.

“She’s near the top in terms of her strength and power and she pushes everybody else. Hockey sense, competitiveness, physicality, all those major factors, Lexie has not disappointed in any of those areas. Those are invaluable assets she has brings to the table,” Cochrane adds. “She had a fantastic Nationals. I truly think that solidified her spot on the world championship team. Her Nationals and her play in the PWHL thus far, ultimately solidified the decision for the National team coaches.”

Oakville dominated women’s hockey in Ontario last season, attaining a feat not accomplished in over a decade, the triple crown. The Hornets placed first overall in the PWHL, won the Lower Lakes League title and the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA) championship.

“She (Adzija) was a huge part of the success we had last year and this year even more so,” said Cochrane. “She has stepped up and helped the younger kids feel comfortable.”

 Three of Adzija’s Oakville team-mates (forward Sarah Fillier, goalie Mady MacArthur, defenceman Emily Rickwood), will be with her in Russia, the most from any one club team or school.

This past November was a memorable month, as Adzija also signed a letter of intent to attend Quinnipiac University, in the autumn of 2018.

Located in Hamden, Connecticut, Quinnipiac is a division one school, with the hockey team (Bobcats) playing in the ECAC, along with Harvard, Yale and Cornell. Current Oakville team-mate Amy Dobson is also heading to Quinnipiac.

“It took me a little while to decide because I wanted to make sure I was making the best decision,” said Adzija, who started touring universities while in Grade nine. “It is the best fit for me and I’m excited to start there. Right when you step on the Quinnipiac campus, it’s beautiful. The facilities are incredible and I was very impressed by the coaching staff and their academics are awesome as well.”

Quinnipiac's women's hockey team announced their class of 2022 this week and coach Cassandra Turner shares similar thoughts on Adzija, as coach Cochrane.

"A proven goal scorer at every level, (Lexie) possesses an unrivalled competitiveness spirit that will allow her to contribute in all situations," Turner said. "With the value we place on first person puck pressure, being physical and hard to play against, we're excited to add Lexie's size, aggressiveness and ability to win pucks, to our line-up."

Adzija started her career with the St. Thomas Jr. Stars’ Timbits’ program, before moving on to the London Devilettes organization at age seven. She played two full seasons with the Devilettes’ junior team, prior to arriving in Oakville.

While in elementary school, at P.E. Trudeau, in St. Thomas, Adzija kept busy playing all sports, including track and field and soccer. In Grade five, at the TVDSB track and field final meet, Adzija set the junior girls’ long jump record (4.17 metres) that still stands today. She also helped her school’s 4x100-metre relay team set the meet record in grade six (intermediate) and seven (senior).

Lexie Adzija

  Lexie Adzija, will be attending Quinnipiac University next fall.  (photo / courtesy (@88Adzija) Lexie Adzija)

Adzija continued playing competitive soccer (Byron Blades, Oakville Hurricanes) up until a year ago.

Her hockey role modals are Hayley Wickenheiser and Rebecca Johnston, but Lexie’s hero is her older brother, Anders.

“He was a reason I got into hockey by watching him. I remember begging my parents to let me play. I went to all of his games and he was always the hardest working one out there,” said Lexie. “He was someone I really looked up getting into the game. He encourages and supports me now. He can no longer play because he had too many concussions, but his passion is inside me.”

That passion, along with her on ice and leadership abilities, could lead Adzija to the next step, making the senior team and playing at the Olympics.

“She’s got the drive. I do believe for her it is attainable,” Cochrane said. “She has the intangibles. Every player at her age has things to work on, but for her that is attainable with the skill set she has and if she continues to build on it.”

Adzija has already appeared on national TV, outside of her games at Nationals, interviewed by Sportsnet’s Ron MacLean, for Hometown Hockey.

“Our head of athletics (at Appleby) pulled me out from class and he said I would be perfect to give him (MacLean) a tour around campus,” recalls Adzija. “So I go out and he asks, ‘ok, are you ready for your interview?’ I had to no time to prepare and was all stressed out, but I think it went ok.”

OK for sure and no doubt, the first of many TV interviews for the budding Team Canada star.

 

 

 

        rob@hometownplay.ca