To say it's been a pressure packed season for Swan River's Kaila Powell would be an understatement. The 17-year-old is in her final year of Midget hockey, but that's not where much of the pressure is coming from. For the past few months, the 17-year-old has been trying out for the U-18 Manitoba women's hockey team and her hard work has paid off.

Kaila has made the final roster and her alongside the rest of the team will now represent the province at the Canada Winter Games, next month in Red Deer. Kaila is the only Parkland athlete on the team.

"I'm extremely proud that I get the chance to represent my province in such a big event with a lot of my friends," said Powell. "I'm just completely wowed over the fact that I get to compete in the Canada Winter Games."

Powell is known as one of the more skilled defenders in the province at her age level. She's also played on Team Manitoba before, at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships. With that being said, with so many great athletes attending the selection camps, no spot on the roster was guaranteed.

"I know I had to work very hard for my spot and I couldn't take anything for granted," added Powell. "I guess my hard work paid off which I'm very thankful for."

The 2019 Canada Winter Games take place from February 15 until March 3. That gives Kaila a good amount of time to prepare to play against the best U-18 women's hockey players in Canada, a challenge that she's really looking forward to."

"Yeah, it's right around the corner and I honestly can't wait for it," said Powell. "It's time to get down to the grind and work really hard on and off the ice to prepare for it."

"The big crowds are going to be pretty electric and I think that's where my nerves may come out," said Powell. "This is the best of the best; everyone playing in this event is extremely good at hockey so it's going to be tough."

Luckily for the 17-year-old, she may be able to use a past experience to help her have success in Red Deer. Kaila was fortunate enough to play in the 2017 Esso Cup with her Pembina Valley Hawks team, a tournament in which the Hawks hosted and ended up placing fourth at. 

"That was a great experience and honestly, my mindset is it's just another game and tournament," said Powell. "My family is coming down to watch and that's super important to me and I think that will help me stay calm. I just have to try as hard as I can every game and we'll see how it all turns out."

Kaila and the rest of the Manitoba women are joined by New Brunswick, Quebec, and Saskatchewan in their pool.

So far this season, Powell has been rock solid for the same Pembina Valley Hawks. She was named the team Captain and she's racked up 11 points in 19 games so far. 

"Obviously it's a really big role to take on but I'm really enjoying it so far," said Powell. "We have a really great team and a fantastic coaching staff so I'm really thankful to be in the position I am." 

The team overall is 6-9-1-3 in the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League which has them in seventh place but they're just six points back of fourth place.

What's Next?

Regardless of how Kaila does at the Canada Winter Games, she's had a very successful hockey career to date and that will extend well past this year. She will be going to the University of Regina next season and she will suit up for the women's hockey team while she studies science.