Jessica Healey hopes her third season with the Edmonton Thunder ends like her first two have: with a trip to the Esso Cup. Here’s what the 17-year-old defenceman – and member of Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 team – remembers most about her experience.
ESSO CUP HISTORY
In Charlottetown, P.E.I., in 2012, the Thunder defeated Metro Boston Pizza from Nova Scotia for the bronze medal. Healey recorded four assists in seven games. Last year in Burnaby, B.C., the Thunder went undefeated through the preliminary round, only to fall in the semifinals and once again finish third. Healey had a goal and three assists and twice was named Player of the Game for the Thunder.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT, ON ICE
Twice the Thunder battled back from two-goal deficits to tie the North Bay Ice Boltz 4-4 during their preliminary round match-up in 2013. Five minutes of overtime solved nothing. “When we know we’re heading to the Esso Cup we start to practice shootouts because we know we can get in that situation,” says Healey. She would be her team’s third shooter that night. “I didn’t really know if I was going to get put in, being defence and all.” After the first five shooters were denied, Healey went forehand-backhand-forehand around the sprawling Ice Boltz keeper to give the Thunder the win. “That was awesome,” says Healey, smiling. “It was just so surreal. I was so happy and seeing my teammates smile was just the best feeling.”
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT, OFF-ICE
As much as the focus is on hockey once you make it to a national championship, Healey says the team took time to tour their host cities the past two years. In P.E.I., the players even braved the cold and took a dip in the Charlottetown waterfront.
“Last year against Regina we came back from 4-1 down to tie it 4-4,” says Healey. With 25 seconds left in the game, Healey fed Alexandra Poznikoff for the game-tying goal. Three minutes into overtime, Healey picked up the second assist on Amy Boucher’s game-winner. “You remember bits and pieces of each game,” she says, “but that comeback was huge for us.”
WINNING A MEDAL
The reward for being successful in five games in five days is two more games in two days. “By the time you’re in the semis, you’re tired,” says Healey. “You don’t have a lot of legs left.” Despite disappointing losses the past two years, the team bounced back to win bronze both times. It wasn’t the medal the team was hoping for, says Healey, but the players were proud they fought back to bring home some hardware.