Cayla Barnes’ golden career finally skates home to SoCal in USA-Canada series


Kayla Barnes of the United States celebrates after scoring a goal against Finland at the 2022 Winter Olympics. (Petr David Yosek/Associated Press)

Cayla Barnes’ athleticism has taken her far from Eastvale in Riverside County. There she grew up playing soccer and roller her hockey before following her older brother onto the ice and launching her illustrious career.

Barnes, 23, has won gold and silver medals for the United States in the last two Winter Olympic hockey tournaments. She has competed in the Women’s World Championships three times and the Women’s Under-18 World Games three times, making her the first athlete to win three consecutive gold medals.

After playing for the Junior Kings Bantam AAA teams, the Junior Ducks and the Lady Ducks before heading to Eastern Prep School and Boston College, Barnes was a smooth skater in the form of her role model Hall of Famer. A creative pack handler, member and former Dak Scott Niedermeier. She is one of the best defensive players in the women’s game and there is no doubt that she will be a mainstay for the US national team and her Olympic team for years to come.

“For me, most importantly, her presence is calming,” said US coach John Roblewski. “She has a talent for games. She has great vision and is very trustworthy.”

But there’s one key experience missing from her list of achievements. It’s the thrill of playing a home game with the United States crest on your jersey.

She played in front of a large supportive crowd, including 14,551 fans who gathered at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle last month to watch the United States play Canada and was one of the women’s varsity teams on the mainland. It set a record for the largest number of spectators in a game. For women’s hockey, it was an emotional moment worth more than disappearing from the public consciousness during the Olympic tournament.

It was exciting for Burns, but it wasn’t home. It wasn’t a place she could see with her eyes closed, a link where her stand faces belonged to her family and friends and the people who supported her dream that pulled her apart. .

That will change on Monday, when Burns will appear in Team USA’s fifth game of the seven-game Rivalry Series at the Crypto.com Arena against Canada. It will also be strangely different.

“This is where she grew up. This is the youth team she played in. And often she was the only girl. And now there are thousands of girls who want to be the next Kayla Burns.” you’ll see in the stands.”

US teammate Kendall Coyne Scofield on Barnes playing closer to home

“When someone said they were playing at Crypto, I asked, ‘Where’s that?’ We talked about the name change.

“I’m thrilled to be able to play there. It’s nice to see my family here and spend time with them. They can’t see me play a lot. It’s amazing to go home. It will be something special.”

Her parents planned to travel to Los Angeles for a game televised on the NHL network. Her two of her siblings still live in Southern California and were planning to bring their family along. Members of the LA Lions, the Kings-backed women’s youth hockey program, are expected to meet her afterward.

They aren’t the only ones rooting for her.

“I’m so happy she’s here with her family,” said forward Kendall Coyne Schofield, a suburban Chicago native enjoying a home moment at the United Center.

“This is where she grew up. This is the youth team she played in. And often she was the only girl. And now there are thousands of girls who want to be the next Kayla Burns.” you’ll see in the stands.”

Cayla Barnes from the USA does a stick check.

Cayla Barnes from the USA does a stick check. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Barnes is just 5ft 2 and this is a good day. However, she has had a huge impact on American women’s hockey.

She is a late addition to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic team roster. The 18-year-old youngest player was brought in to add her energy and enthusiasm when the pace and mood faltered during the pre-competition tour. She played in all five of her Olympic games, but she did not score a point as the U.S. Women’s ended her 20-year gold drought.

Barnes blossomed in Beijing earlier this year, becoming a bridge between the team’s 30-something veteran and the youngsters who must overtake them to regain world and Olympic hegemony from Canada. became.

“As you get older, you naturally move into different roles,” Barnes said after the team practiced at the Kings’ El Segundo facility.

“I connect really well with younger kids and older girls, so it was kind of fun actually. I just jump around and that’s what makes it really fun and interesting.”

The road from California’s women’s hockey to the world stage has been traveled before, but rarely because of the need to move to the Midwest or East for higher levels of competition.

Four-time Olympian and 1998 gold medalist Angela Ruggiero of Simi Valley is one of the few women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Huntington Beach’s Chanda Gan won a bronze medal for the United States at the 2006 Olympics. More than six Californians play in the Division I women’s program.

“The player pool is getting bigger and bigger. The more players we have, the more opportunities we have to go to the national team,” Barnes said. “We will definitely see more girls from California represented on the national team in the future.”

The first step for some is to see her play, either on Mondays or at a promotional meet-and-greet, which is a standard part of a female player’s job.

“One of our biggest goals is to grow the game and empower girls to feel like they can be anything they want,” Barnes said. “Many of us didn’t have a respectable expression when we were growing up, so being able to do so for the next generation is very important. It helps.”

Not only that, they can do it at home.

This story was originally published in the Los Angeles Times.



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