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Seafair standout shines at NHL All-Star Weekend

Already playing as an underage player on an Atom boys rep team, Katie Chan wins a national skills competition

She only turned nine last month and already Katie Chan has a resumé most minor hockey players would be envy of.

If making a boys rep team as an underage player wasn't impressive enough, then how about attending the NHL All-Star Weekend and proving your skills are among the best in Canada?

The Seafair Minor Hockey player did just that by participating in the Canadian Tire NHL Junior Skills National Championships in Ottawa which was part of the all-star activities.

Chan earned a trip of a lifetime to the nation's capital by placing among the top five in the Novice Girls Division after qualifying events were held in 15 cities Katie across Canada. She qualified second overall, with her fastest skate time ranking her third overall among girls and boys participants. She was also seventh in the stick handling challenge.

In Ottawa, Chan competing against five other finalists in four events - passing accuracy, shooting accuracy, fastest skate and stick handling. The event took place outdoors on the Rideau Canal in frigid conditions with the temperature hovering around -10C.

The cold didn't slow down Chan

and she won both the fastest skate and passing accuracy events. She went on to finish tied with another competitor and both were declared co-champions.

The skills contest was only part of the memorable weekend.

Chan got to walk out onto the red carpet during the NHL Skills Competition at Scotiabank Place. She met NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke and even Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

On the flight back to Vancouver, she and her father Rob Chan were sitting right behind Canuck all-stars Henrik and Daniel Sedin, along with Rookie game participant Cody Hodgson.

The Grade 3 Maple Lane elementary student's love for hockey developed when her family still lived in Toronto and she skated on her own backyard rink when she was just two. By the time she was four, she was playing organized hockey.

"Katie refused to wear figure skates, only hockey skates would do," said her mom, Marilyn Chan. "I think what appeals to her about hockey is the challenge of mastering so many different skills.

"She also loves being part of a team. She loves the fun and friend-ships that develop when you work towards a common goal. She's a pretty competitive kid which is why she's always played boys' hockey. She wants to play against the best of the best because she knows it will push her to play bet-ter."

It's that desire that helped Chan make Seafair's Atom A3 team despite being a Novice age player. She has helped the Islanders enjoy a tremendous campaign to date, that includes an undefeated regular season and the lowest goals against among all Atom rep teams in the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association.

With bodychecking likely to be removed from Pee Wee rep, Chan hopes to keep playing boys rep hockey right up until the Bantam level. However, elite female teams have already expressed interest in Chan playing for them.

With her Toronto roots, she is a big fan of the Maple Leafs with Sydney Crosby being her favourite player and Phil Kessel being a close second.

Chan's dream is follow the lead of her favourite female player Hayley Wickenheiser and one day play for Canada at the Olympics.

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