SHERWOOD PARK, AB – Hockey Canada announced on Thursday that Sherwood Park, Alberta, has been awarded the 2004 Esso Women's National Hockey Championship.
The 2004 Championship, which will be held from March 10-14, 2004 at Sherwood Park Arena and Millennium Place, will mark the 23rd year of existence for Canada's National Women's Championship.
The Women's National Championship has been held in Alberta on three previous occasions, Spruce Grove (1984), Edmonton (1992) and in Calgary (1998). Alberta has won the gold all three times they have hosted the tournament.
" Since its inception in 1982, the Esso Women's National Championship has played a major role in the promotion and development of female hockey throughout Canada and the world," said Bob Nicholson, President of the Hockey Canada. "I know that the Sherwood Park Host Committee will do a phenomenal job running this great event, which in the end will help raise the profile of women’s hockey and encourage more women to play hockey in our country."
The 2003 Esso Women's Nationals took place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Ten players from Team Canada's Gold medal winning entry at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics took part in last years Championship as Alberta captured their seventh National title by defeating Ontario 6-3 to retain their championship.
Current and former Alberta women’s hockey stars that have taken part in this annual event include such players as Judy Diduck (Sherwood Park, AB), Hayley Wickenheiser (Calgary, AB), Jennifer Botterill (Calgary, AB) and Danielle Goyette (Calgary, AB).
The 2004 Esso Women's National Hockey Championship will be presented by Hockey Canada, Hockey Alberta and the premier sponsors of Hockey Canada: Esso, Bauer Nike Hockey and the RBC Financial Group. This elite women's hockey event showcases members of Canada's National Women's Team, Canada's Under 22 National Team as well as players who have starred in the Canada Winter Games and at the National Women's Under-18 Challenge.
" As a premier sponsor of Hockey Canada, Imperial Oil is pleased to sponsor the Esso Women's National Hockey Championship. By supporting hockey programs and events we believe we are contributing to the youth of our country in a meaningful way. We believe events such as the Esso Women's National Hockey Championship will provide unique experiences for youngsters in the province of Alberta. This event also enables us to demonstrate the tremendous benefits the great game of hockey can produce for the players, coaches, officials and fans," said Karen Fraser, Marketing Sponsorship Manager for Imperial Oil.
" Hockey Alberta is excited to be the host branch for the 2004 Esso Women’s Nationals and we are confident that Sherwood Park will do an excellent job of hosting the best women’s hockey players in Canada," said Loren Krukowski, President of Hockey Alberta.
" The Sherwood Park Hosting Committee is excited and proud to have been given the opportunity to showcase this elite female hockey championship. We are ready to share our community with athletes, officials and spectators from across the nation," said Elaine Garner, co-chair of the Host Committee.
Shelley Tobo-Gaudreau, co-chair of the Host Committee added, "Sherwood Park has a long and distinguished history of hockey over the years and we have strong support from the community to create an exciting atmosphere for the participating teams. We encourage everyone to come see the action as we ‘Bring on the Best’ in women’s hockey. Our theme ‘Bring on the Best’ reflects not only the championship, but applies to our host committee volunteers and sponsors as we bring on the best Esso Women’s Nationals."
The 2004 Esso Nationals opens on Wednesday, with two pools of teams playing a round robin. The Bronze and Gold medal games are played on the final day of the tournament, Sunday, . TSN/RDS, the official broadcaster of Hockey Canada, will televise the gold medal game from coast to coast in Canada on their national networks.