halli krzyzaniak action shot

Made by Manitoba

No matter where in the world the game takes her, home is where the hockey is for Halli Krzyzaniak

Jason La Rose
December 9, 2017

Dorothy Gale said it best: There’s no place like home.

After a season that has taken her up and down the province of Alberta and to various points across North America in pursuit of her Olympic dream, Halli Krzyzaniak got the chance to go back to her roots.

The fourth game of the Canada-United States pre-Olympic series on Dec. 5 had special meaning for the blue-liner; it was in Winnipeg, just over 10 years ago, that a teenage Krzyzaniak made a life-altering decision.

“I remember being there in 2007 when the world championship was there and being in stands,” she says. “That was the moment when I decided that’s what I wanted to do; I wanted to be [Team Canada], and be out there wearing the jersey. So to be able to come full-circle like that, and be able to be out there and hopefully inspiring the next generation of female hockey players was really special.”

The journey to get back where she started took Krzyzaniak to British Columbia, to North Dakota and around the world, but it started in Neepawa, Man., a town of just under 5,000 located 187 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

It was her hometown, and the people in it, who shaped the 22-year-old – both as a player and a person.

“It’s the sense of camaraderie you have,” Krzyzaniak says of small-town life. “Everyone knows everyone, and everyone keeps tabs on you, and is always asking how you’re doing, how’s hockey going … it’s a sense of pride. You want to do well for them and represent them well.”

There likely aren’t many in Neepawa who can argue Krzyzaniak hasn’t represented them well.

Her path to Canada’s National Women’s Team has Neepawa written all over it, starting with the blue-collar work ethic that has brought her within just a few months of a trip to PyeongChang.

“I think living in such a small town and growing up on a farm have given me life skills and life values that have helped me in hockey,” she says. “Things like hard work, determination and discipline; all those things you learn being from a small town with not a lot around. You know you’re the one who has to push yourself, because you don’t have the resources.”

In the end, it was that lack of resources that necessitated her first big hockey decision. At 13, Krzyzaniak made the move west to Kelowna, B.C., and the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy.

“It was definitely tough to leave family and friends, but I knew this was the dream I wanted and I knew that to achieve that I would have to leave.” she says. “Back then female hockey wasn’t as developed as it is now in Manitoba, so I knew if I wanted to take that next step that I needed to go elsewhere.”

She flourished in her five seasons at POE, winning league championships and learning how to be a leader, serving as captain in her final season before departing for the University of North Dakota.

Her performance also put her on the radar for provincial and national duty; Krzyzaniak debuted for Manitoba at the 2011 Canada Winter Games, and was named MVP and Top Defenceman at the 2012 National Women’s Under-18 Championship.

“That was my first experience playing female hockey at a high level, at the Canada Games in 2011,” she says. “Just seeing the girls with the other provinces and how good everyone is across Canada, that was an eye-opening experience for me.”

Krzyzaniak cracked her first Team Canada roster in the summer of 2011, and helped Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team to back-to-back gold medals at the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship in 2012 and 2013, earning Top Defenceman honours in her second appearance.

She has continued to trend upwards ever since, making her debut with Canada’s National Women’s Team at the 2014 4 Nations Cup and playing in her first IIHF Women’s World Championship the following spring.

It all led back to Manitoba, back to Winnipeg, and back to the arena where her Olympic dream was born.

The 2-0 win over the Americans was a chance to reconnect with the family and friends who made make the trek from Neepawa, to say thanks, recharge and get a little bit of a push as centralization enters the homestretch.

“It really was a dream come true. The support we felt not only on the ice, but all week and the months leading up to the game, everyone was so excited to be able to be there. It definitely gives us a boost heading into our last couple months.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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