Hard work pays off in gold-medal win

At just 16-years-old, Caitlin Kraemer is already making a name for herself in the hockey world. She not only led Canada’s gold medal winning team at this month’s women’s world U18 championship in Sweden with 11 points, she also broke the Canadian record for goals at the tournament with 10. This bett

Last updated on May 03, 23

Posted on Jan 26, 23

4 min read

At just 16-years-old, Caitlin Kraemer is already making a name for herself in the hockey world. She not only led Canada’s gold medal winning team at this month’s women’s world U18 championship in Sweden with 11 points, she also broke the Canadian record for goals at the tournament with 10. This bettered the previous record of eight held by women’s hockey legend Marie-Philip Poulin.

“It’s so crazy, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and coaches. They’re the sole reason that happened. They’re so skilled, anyone could have done it. It just happened to be me this time,” Kraemer said

“It’s a pretty incredible accomplishment, she should be so proud. Her hard work and determination has really paid off and will continue to pay off. She was very humble about her accomplishment, that’s for sure,” said Canada’s head coach at the tournament, Courtney Birchard-Kessel.

Coming from Elmira roots, Kraemer is currently a member of the KW Rangers U22 team, where she is coached by Chad Campbell, who says her success was not surprising.

“We see it all the time. We see what she does in games; we see the hard work she puts in. I think playing in the U22 elite level, she just took her game to the next level. Her desire and her willingness to improve and take her game to that level. It was amazing to watch,” Campbell said.

“A lot of coaches say ‘play like you practice,’ while she plays like she practices. She practices hard every practice. She’s 100 per cent all the time. She never stands still in practice…she’s always trying to better herself as a player. She works just as hard off the ice. She’s always building her stamina. She’s working on her conditioning off the ice.”

Birchard-Kessel saw Kreamer’s confidence and determination throughout the tournament.

“Caitlin is a 200-foot player; she is very strong and is a threat every time she is on the ice. At such a young age, she is very powerful and strong. She is always willing to battle and is very creative around the net” she said.

Kraemer also set the record for fastest hat trick in tournament history with her four-goal performance in the gold medal game which saw Canada defeat Sweden 10-0. She was also named to the media selected all-star team and was chosen as one of Canada’s best three players by her coaches.

Kraemer explained the lengthy process it took to make the team, starting with the summer showcase and three game series against the United States last August, followed by the phone call in December letting her know she had made the team.

“It was a big weight lifted off your shoulders because it was pretty stressful leading up to that, but to get the call was very relieving,” she explained.

As a whole, Team Canada set the record for best goal differential, with a total of 28 goals for and 3 against. The team’s closest game was the semi-final where they defeated Finland 3-2 in overtime.

The team’s gold medal win was due to the closeness they had with each other, Kraemer said.

“We’re each other’s best friends, they’re all like my sisters and we’re all family. The coaches did a terrific job at keeping us together and emphasizing what it means to be a good teammate and what makes a team successful. She is still processing becoming a world champion.

“It’s just crazy to be a world champion, but when we first won it was an amazing feeling just seeing everyone’s face just light up. Everyone’s just waiting for that final game to come around because we all know what the end goal is. Just to see all my teammates and coaches, just their faces lit up, and everyone just enjoying themselves because we did what we came to do,” she said.

Back home after the win Kraemer is already becoming an inspiration to younger girls in hockey, having shown off the medal at a recent practice.

“That was definitely a new experience. Something I wasn’t really expecting but it was cool to see the little girls’ faces light up when they see the medal because I dreamed of holding this. Just to get to share that with them was pretty cool,” she explained

Kraemer’s accomplishments are a great thing for girls’ hockey in the region, Campbell said.

“The younger kids, they know of us and they look up to us, but after Caitlin winning  and getting all the publicity that she has, I think that that has been great for the local girls’ hockey, just seeing somebody that they can look up to and put a name to a face and being able to see her at the rink locally.”

Going forward Kraemer has committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for the 2024 season.

“I knew I wanted to go to a top school from the beginning. Of all the schools, they just really stood out with the team environment and culture. The coaches and players seem like something I want to be a part of and seemed like a good fit.”

Beyond hoping to make the U18 team again next season she is setting her sights on the Olympics with the national senior team.
“I think I just [need to] keep getting support from my coaches and family and just keep learning and just keeping your mind open. I still have so much to learn and so much to improve on,” Kraemer said of what it will take for her Olympic dreams to happen.

Campbell would not be surprised to see Kraemer on the Olympic team some day.

“There’s lots that could happen in the next couple of years. If she doesn’t get hurt and she stays healthy. And if even she does get hurt, I think she would work her butt off to get back into it,” he said.

Kraemer has a bright future with Hockey Canada, Birchard-Kessel added.

“She needs to continue to learn and grow along the way but really looking forward to watching her develop. If she continues to progress and work hard I definitely think we can see her in the red and white for years to come.”

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