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Esso Women's National Championship Set to Begin in Sydney, NS Canadian Gold Medal Olympians to Hold Autograph Session
March 7, 2006

SYDNEY, NS - The 2006 Esso Women's National Championship gets under way on Wednesday, March 8th with all nine teams seeing action. A game between Newfoundland & Labrador and Prince Edward Island at Cape Breton University and a Ontario vs. New Brunswick match-up at Centre 200 kick off the tournament at 9:00 am (AT). The tournament runs through Sunday, March 12th with the quarterfinals being held on Friday March 10th and the semi-finals taking place on Saturday March 11th. The gold medal game will be nationally televised on the official broadcasters of Hockey Canada, TSN/RDS, on Sunday, at 1:00pm.

Esso, as long-time premier sponsor of Hockey Canada, has been involved as the title sponsor of the Women's National Hockey Championship for the past ten years. This year in Sydney, through the Esso Community Program, Esso and Esso-branded retailers and associates are pleased to make it possible for over 600 local children to attend the Esso Women's Nationals and experience first-hand the excitement of women's hockey. These children come from local minor hockey programs and local elementary schools that are participating in the Breakfast with Champions program being put on by Hockey Canada.

"Esso has been closely involved in supporting the growth and development of women's hockey through programs such as the Esso Fun Days and Esso Medals and Certificates of Achievement program, but more importantly through support of the Esso Women's National Hockey Championships that provides a forum for elite level competition." said Karen Fraser, Marketing Sponsorship Manager for Esso. "It's events such as the Esso Women's Nationals that provides the training ground to produce international champions and at Esso, we're proud to have played a part in the tremendous growth and success of women's hockey in Canada".

For a complete schedule of the 2006 Esso Women's National Championship click here. Hockey Canada is proud to offer live, real time statistics for each game of the 2006 Esso Women's National Championship. Fans can log on and follow each game live simply by following this link.

The organizing committee also announced that six players from Canada's gold medal winning Olympic women's hockey team who are competing in this year's Esso Women's Nationals will hold an autograph session. Fans attending the game have the opportunity to meet Caroline Ouellette, Charline Labonte, Gina Kingsbury, Gillian Ferrari, Jayna Hefford and Vicky Sunohara at the Centre 200 Arena on Wednesday, immediately following the 7:30pm game of Ontario vs Quebec.

Single game tickets and ticket packages are still available and are available for purchase in person at the Centre 200 Box Office or by calling (902) 564-6668.

This year's Esso Women's National Championship will again be played with a seeded pool system based on the previous year's finish. The "A" pool will feature five provincial teams: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick. The "B" Pool will feature four teams: Manitoba and three Atlantic teams; Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia (host team).

The Esso Women's National Championship was established in 1982 and is Canada's Senior Women's National Championship. The 2006 event marks the 25th anniversary of Canada's National Women's Championship and marks the 70th anniversary of Esso's long standing commitment to the sport of hockey in Canada. Nine of Hockey Canada's Branches from across Canada will send a representative Senior Women's Hockey Team to the event, featuring some of the top senior female players from across Canada.

FOR MEDIA RELATIONS INQUIRIES: contact Mathieu Litalien who will be on-site at 403-703-8791 (cell).

For more information:

André Brin
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada

Francis Dupont
Manager, Media Relations/Communications
Hockey Canada

Jason LaRose
Manager, Content Services
Hockey Canada

Kristen Lipscombe
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada

Keegan Goodrich
Coordinator, Media
Hockey Canada

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