Teen has Olympic chance she thought would be 4 years away

AP
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WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (AP) — Getting cut is never easy. Luckily for Cayla Barnes, she had plenty to take her mind off her disappointment at being dropped from the U.S. hockey team.

First, she graduated from high school. Then, she headed to Boston College, where she played five games with the Eagles earlier this fall.

A call in late October changed everything.

Days after watching the U.S. women lose 5-1 to Canada in Boston on Oct. 25 , Barnes learned she was moving from the bleachers to the bench as a call-up to the national team with the chance to earn an Olympic roster spot.

The defender, who turns 19 on Jan. 7, quickly withdrew from college to become the team’s youngest player, chasing an opportunity that had seemed four years away.

“Once I got cut, they said be ready, keep training, so that was always in the back of my mind,” Barnes said. “I wasn’t expecting the call at all. … This was completely out of the blue.”

The 5-foot-1, 145-pound native of Eastvale, Calif., alerted her parents, notified Boston College coaches and left school to join the national team training in Florida.

“My coaches are really supportive, and I was so excited to come and join this team,” Barnes said. “Though they’ve been hectic, the past … weeks, they’ve been really exciting.”

Barnes helped the U.S. win the last three under-18 world championships, and she also played with the senior national team for two games against Canada last December.

A strong skater with good vision, Barnes wasted no time showing why USA Hockey wanted her on the national team.

She debuted at the Four Nations Cup and scored a power-play goal in the first period of her first game, an 8-2 win over Finland on Nov. 7 .

“For somebody that’s young and just joined the team to show that kind of patience … that’s why she’s here,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said.

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