P.E.I.’s all-star entry at the 2008 Esso Nationals women’s hockey championships in Charlottetown this week has true Island representation.
“We’re a team that covers the Island,” said manager Dawn Moase of Chelton. “We have players from Alberton to Souris.”
And Team P.E.I. is hoping to make history.
“We feel pretty confident this will be the first time that P.E.I. will bring back a medal from the Esso Nationals,” added Moase. “If we play to our potential, it’s just a matter of what colour we’ll carry.
“Certainly our goal is to medal, there's no question.”
Hockey Canada’s new format for the women’s nationals makes that a realistic goal.
This year, four teams —Brampton, Mississauga, Minnesota and Calgary — will compete for the club championship while P.E.I., Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia will challenge for the provincial team title.
“It’s a little unique this year with the two different pools,” said Moase. “In the past you used to have to
play all the provinces, and this year they changed the format somewhat.
“The elite players will have their pool and this will make for more competitive pools.”
Team P.E.I., sponsored by Source for Sports, opens play against Manitoba at MacLauchlan Arena today at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be a close game, there’s no doubt in our minds,” predicted Moase.
Team P.E.I. features a young squad, with 15 of the 21 players playing university, college or minor hockey.
“Most of the provinces now are in that same age bracket,” said Moase. “In past years, with P.E.I. being so small, senior players would hang on until more and more players made it up through the ranks.
“Now P.E.I. is in a position where they have that system in place, and have young players coming up through the minor system, Canada Games system and university.”
Moase feels this year’s Team P.E.I. is “stronger” than previous years.
“We're a little bit faster being a younger team,” said Moase. “We feel we probably have the strongest defence we’ve had in some years and as long as our offence is running the way we feel it’s going to, I feel our defence is going to be there for us.”
An example of P.E.I.”s youth movement is the recent addition of 15-year-old Emily Van Diepen of the Kings County bantam AAA team.
“Emily’s our youngest (player) at 15, most of our players are in the Grade 12 to university age group and we have a couple of senior players,” said Moase. “Captain Marion Clark, Tracy Knowles and Jen Power are our senior-aged players.
“As a group, I believe we have nine new players.”