Every April, six of the best female Midget teams compete for the Esso Cup. Long after a national champion has been crowned and the last player has taken
her turn with the trophy, the on- and off-ice spirit of Esso week remains in its host communities.
“Like our other national championships, the Esso Cup operates on the basis that any net profit and ultimate legacy stays in the local community,” says Dean
McIntosh, senior director of events and properties for Hockey Canada. “Taking the Esso Cup to multiple communities across the country – and in many cases
smaller communities – allows us to leave a legacy in those communities specifically, or in the branch more generally, so it’s allowed us to develop female
hockey not just in one or two provinces but right across the country.”
It was only a year ago that the Red Deer Chiefs hosted the Esso Cup. “One of the main drivers behind us hosting was to build the identity of female hockey
in Central Alberta,” says Todd Thiessen, chair of the host organizing committee. Already skills camps have been held and a newly-created scholarship has
awarded its first wave of graduating players.
Legacies are about more than dollars, though; they’re also about showcasing the game to younger girls. Increased registration in Red Deer allowed for the
addition of a Peewee team this year.
“The ability to see 15-, 16-, 17-year-old girls competing for a national championship gives young girls the opportunity to be exposed to potential heroes,
but also to say, ‘hey, I can do that as well and here’s an opportunity for me,’” says McIntosh. “It’s been a great event and great growth for the women’s
Here’s what three early Esso Cup hosts have been able to do.
REGINA, SASK. (2010)
After setting aside a small amount for the creation of the Esso Volunteer Award, an end-of-season honour from the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey
League, the remainder of the Rebels’ legacy fund was evenly split three ways.
An annual scholarship, managed by the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, grants $1,000 to two league players: one on her way to the University of Regina, one
on her way to the University of Saskatchewan. “Six years later we’re hosting another Esso Cup in Saskatchewan, in Weyburn,” says McIntosh, “and the program
from [Regina] still exists but more dollars will be put into it, so we’ll have a legacy beyond the seven or eight years of the initial one and instead
it’ll be a full 15 or 16 years,” says McIntosh.
With a female hockey development fund, Hockey Regina has hosted ‘try hockey’ days and subsidized equipment and registration for new players, assisted in
general skill development at the grassroots level and provided more dedicated instruction to high-performance players.
The last third stayed with the Rebels for general operating costs. First up were improvements to the dressing room, including new carpeting and paint, a
trophy case, and TV and video equipment.
ST. ALBERT, ALTA. (2011)
For the St. Albert Slash, the legacy of the 2011 Esso Cup has been about the past, present and future. For the last three years, the team has hosted an
alumni event in December. Former Slash players have a game, and younger teams from the area are invited to get on the ice as well, before everyone gathers
for an after-ice social.
Over that same time the team has hosted an annual Esso Fun Day and equipment swap, with both current Slash and alumnae helping out. On average 20 girls,
ages four to 13, come out in August, and all have registered for the following season. Any leftover equipment gets donated to Sport Central in Edmonton.
Lastly, each year the Legacy Female Midget Scholarship awards a graduating player – either a member of the Slash or someone with the St. Albert Minor
Hockey Association – with $1,000 toward their post-secondary education.
A motivating factor in wanting to host the Esso Cup was setting up the future of women’s hockey in the community. Funds still remain to build programs; the
next goal is improving training for younger coaches. “We’ve [always] thought the focus should be on the girls and developing the whole program because
that’s where the money came from,” says Trudy Kueber, chair of the Esso Cup Legacy Committee.
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. (2012)
Almost all of the funds left behind from the Capital District Cyclones hosting four years ago have been directed toward female development programs –
things like ‘come try hockey’ camps and jamborees – by Hockey PEI. It’s also been able to cover the costs of the annual World Girls’ Hockey Weekend in the
Championship trophies for two high-performance leagues have also been introduced. The trophies not only recognize the provincial Bantam AAA and Midget AAA
winners, but also honour two pioneers of the female game in the province: Dawn Moase and Susan Dalziel, both previous winners of Hockey Canada’s Female