Hockey Canada Network |
News
Something to Play for Women's Club Teams Get Their Own National Championship
Jason La Rose
|
EWN.02.08
|
February 28, 2008
|
|

The concept isn’t something unheard of – members of Canada’s national women’s leagues, battling for supremacy at the Esso Women’s National Championship.

Teams from Calgary, Montreal and Toronto, all dotted with members of Canada’s National Women’s Team, gathering in one place to fight for one prize – the Abby Hoffman Cup.

But the playing field hasn’t always been level.

At the 2007 Esso Women’s Nationals, Nova Scotia earned a spot in the semi-finals, where it proceeded to get beat 15-0 by a Calgary Oval X-Treme team that featured Hayley Wickenheiser, Danielle Goyette and a number of other National Women’s Team members.

The bronze medal game the following day? A 13-3 loss to the Mississauga Aeros, led by national team stars Jennifer Botterill and Cheryl Pounder.

In 2008, things have changed.

When Nova Scotia takes to the ice in Charlottetown, it will join Manitoba, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island to battle for a senior women’s championship, with no fear of having to face a powerhouse club team.

The elite club teams, for the first time ever, will have a national championship of their own to play for, as the top two teams from the Western Women’s Hockey League (WWHL) and from the new Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) will meet for a national title.

“I think it’s a long time coming,” says Wickenheiser, a five-time Most Valuable Player and two-time gold medalist at the Esso Women’s Nationals. “Only 20 players can play on the national team, but there are a lot of other quality players in Canada that can play and could be considered for club teams that can compete against each other.”

Wickenheiser also sees a true national championship as a possible first step towards something that she feels is long overdue – a professional women’s league in Canada.

“I think that if somewhere down the line you want professional women’s hockey, it has to include more than the 20 players who play for the national team, to give them something to play for,” she says. “Having a championship like this is significant.”

Tournament organizers, and players, believe the two-championship approach in 2008 will make a difference in the level of play.

“I think they’ve made adjustments to make it better,” says Botterill, also a former Esso Women’s Nationals gold medalist. “The games are closer and everyone is in a competitive environment, so I think that’s best for everybody.”

“I think we’re at the point where women’s hockey has evolved to an elite level, and if those other provinces aren’t able to produce the players and the teams, then they should play in the second pool,” Wickenheiser says. “Nobody likes to win or lose 17-0, so for both pools to have competitive games will be entertaining for the fans.”

While the national championship is the ultimate goal, Botterill admits a friendly rivalry exists between National Women’s Team players from the eastern teams and players from the western teams.

“There is always a fun East vs. West thing, especially when we gather as a group,” Botterill says. “It’s always fun at a national championship…you want to prove yourself against your peers. I think it’s a healthy rivalry, something that brings out the best in both sides.”

Heading into the 2008 Esso Women’s Nationals, it seems to be unanimous – organizers, players and fans are all in support of the new format, of crowning a pair of national champions on March 15th.

All that is left now is for the first puck to drop. And if the opinions of some of women’s hockey’s biggest stars mean anything, it will be nothing short of exciting.


For more information:

André Brin
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557
abrin@hockeycanada.ca

Francis Dupont
Manager, Media Relations/Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4564
fdupont@hockeycanada.ca

Jason LaRose
Manager, Content Services
Hockey Canada
403-777-4553
jlarose@hockeycanada.ca

Kristen Lipscombe
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-284-6427
klipscombe@hockeycanada.ca

Keegan Goodrich
Coordinator, Media
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
kgoodrich@hockeycanada.ca

facebook.com/hockeycanada

twitter.com/hockeycanada

youtube.com/hockeycanadavideos

Videos
Photos
2014 Esso Cup: SUD 3 - EDM 2
Apr 23, 2014
A pair of power play goals in the second led Sudbury to its third win.
2014 Esso Cup: FRA 7 – MON 2
Apr 23, 2014
The Phantom fired 50 shots on net in picking up its first win of the Esso Cup.
2014 TELUS Cup: HAL 3 - CHA 7
Apr 23, 2014
Eight players had multi-point games to lead Châteauguay to its first win.
2014 TELUS Cup: TOR 4 - MJ 2
Apr 23, 2014
Marco Bozzo’s hat trick helped the Young Nationals to another win.
2014 Esso Cup: STC 3 - WEY 2
Apr 23, 2014
The Sabres scored three in the first and hung on to defeat the Gold Wings.
2014 TELUS Cup: OKA 1 - PA 1
Apr 23, 2014
Kjargaard and Bryshun traded goals in yet another tie game.
2014 Esso Cup: WEY 3 - FRA 2
Apr 22, 2014
Caitlin Dempsey’st wo goals paced Weyburn past Fraser Valley.
2014 Esso Cup: MON 5 - EDM 4
Apr 22, 2014
Faith Steeves netteda hat trip to leadthe Rockets to itsfirst win.
2014 TELUS Cup: PA 1 - CHA 1
Apr 22, 2014
Goaltending stole the show as the Mintos and Grenadiers tied.
2014 Esso Cup STC 2 – SUD 1
Apr 22, 2014
A shorthanded goal from Alexa Vasko late in the second was the difference.
2014 TELUS Cup: TOR 3 - HFX 0
Apr 22, 2014
Longo a marqué deux fois pour procurer un premier gain aux Young Nationals.
2014 TELUS Cup: MJ 3 - OKA 3
Apr 22, 2014
Another tie for both the Generals and Rockets, this time a 3-3 game.
Schedule
Close
Credit  
Close
Photo Credit: