CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI – The Esso Women’s Nationals, Canada’s national senior female hockey championship, returns to Prince Edward Island for the fourth time, as the 2008 tournament kicks off in Charlottetown on Tuesday.
Hockey PEI, which has the highest number of registered female hockey players per capita in Canada, also played host to the 1985, 1995, and 2001 Esso Women’s Nationals. This is the first time the event will be in Charlottetown, as the three previous events were played in Summerside.
Hockey Canada has adopted a new format for the 2008 Esso Women’s Nationals, with two titles being contested. Four club teams – the Brampton Canadette-Thunder and Mississauga Chiefs of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, along with the Calgary Oval X-Treme and Minnesota Whitecaps of the Western Women’s Hockey League – will compete for the club team championship. Meanwhile, four provincial teams – Manitoba, PEI, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia – will compete for the provincial team championship.
TSN/RDS, Hockey Canada’s official broadcaster, will televise the club team championship game LIVE on Saturday, March 15th at 4 p.m. AST (3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT).
“It’s going to be an exciting week,” says Julie Healy, director of female hockey for Hockey Canada. “Many of the best female hockey players from throughout Canada will be playing for the eight teams participating in the two championships. Fans in Charlottetown can expect exciting and competitive games that may have to be decided by overtime or shootout.”
Among those top players who are expected to be in Charlottetown are Hayley Wickenheiser and Gina Kingsbury of the Calgary Oval X-Treme, Jennifer Botterill and Cherie Piper of the Mississauga Chiefs and Vicky Sunohara, Gillian Apps and Jayna Hefford of the Brampton Canadette-Thunder.
The 2008 Esso Women’s Nationals kicks off with two games on Tuesday, both in the provincial team pool. New Brunswick will take on Nova Scotia at 4 p.m. (AST) and the host team from PEI will take to the ice against Manitoba at 7:30 p.m. (AST).
McLauchlan Arena – part of the Capital Area Recreation Inc. Complex – will hold all of the tournament games until the final day, when the Civic Centre will play host to the bronze and gold medal games from the club team championship.
Hockey Canada has teamed up with TELUS to offer fans free webcasts of all games played at the CARI Complex. The webcasts can be seen live at www.telushockeycanada.com.
Esso, one of Hockey Canada’s premier sponsors, is once again the title sponsor of this event.
“For nearly 15 years, Esso has taken a leading role in supporting the growth of women’s hockey in Canada,” says Karen Fraser, marketing sponsorship manager, Imperial Oil. “We feel events like the Esso Women’s Nationals provide an important forum for elite-level competition and player development that ultimately support the ongoing success of Canada's National Women's Team at major international events. We’re proud of our long-standing relationship with Hockey Canada.”