© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Former Prince Albert A&W Bear Crystal Berube is thrilled with the notion that she can continue playing the game that she loves while also obtaining an education in nursing. Berube accepted an offer last week to attend Red Deer College in the fall where she will play and study for the next four years.
Crystal Berube is living proof that dreams do come true.
Having grown up in the southern reaches of the province, Berube knew at a young age that she wanted to play hockey and that hopefully someday she could continue playing the game while also getting an education.
That scenario became reality last week when the 17-year-old former member of the Prince Albert A&W Bears was offered a scholarship at Red Deer College and will suit up next year for the Queens while attaining an education in nursing.
“Just the fact that I will still be able to play hockey at a high level, that’s awesome,” said a beaming Berube following classes at St. Mary High School recently. “It’s going to be different.”
Change is nothing new for Berube.
When she was just 13 years old she was spotted by then Bears’ coach Moe Lemire at a zone camp and was approached about possibly coming to Prince Albert to play the following season. Berube says she was thrilled with the idea, but there was going to be some work to do in getting her family onboard with that notion.
“I somehow talked my mom into letting me go; I don’t know how I did that,” laughs Berube. “I had never been to P.A. before and you’ll laugh at this, but I thought P.A. had snow all the time.”
Berube made the move in the fall of 2010 and for the first two years billeted with Robin and Julie Wildey. Her mom and younger brother then decided Prince Albert should be their next home so they relocated here in 2012.
“She always said she moved because of work, but I think the big reason – and she never told me this – was to be closer to me,” says Berube. “Having my mom up here made it that much better.”
Whether it was just a coincidence, maturity or mom’s home-cooking appealed to her, Berube’s play on the ice really took off from that point on as well. Berube played in 92 regular-season games with the Bears and totalled 36 points – 28 of those coming in the last two seasons. Likewise for the playoffs; Berube failed to register a post-season point in her first two years with the Bears, but in the last two seasons had four goals and six assists.
Her time with the Bears came to a bitter conclusion two weeks ago when the Weyburn Gold Wings – who would later claim the league championship – won a hard-fought semifinal over Prince Albert in four games.
While Berube was overwhelmed with emotions at the conclusion of her playing career with the Bears, another door quickly opened.
“They (Red Deer) called at the end of January for the first time,” explained Berube. “Then I never heard nothing for a while until they were planning a final skate (for the day after what turned out to be the final game), but we were still playing.”
“It really sucked that we lost, but I got the opportunity to go,” added Berube, who added that meeting players currently on the team really helped as they were all supportive of her coming to Red Deer in the fall.
Berube showed a lot of courage and determination in making such a bold move at such a tender age. With tuition and some other expenses now covered for her post-secondary education, and the game of hockey still very prominent in her life, she couldn’t be happier with how things turned out.
“P.A. is home now,” says Berube. “Coming here taught me so much; it really helped me grow so much as a person.”
“Every year was a new group of girls and it seems like you learned something new every day,” added Berube. “The coaches were great.”
Berube is just one of three Bears to be graduating from the midget ranks this year and there is still a possibility that teammate Kendra Winny could follow her to Red Deer. That would be icing on the cake says Berube, but for now she is just letting everything sink in as she pushes towards her high school graduation in three months time.