CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI – The Esso Women’s Nationals, Canada’s national senior women’s hockey championship, has adopted a new format for the 2008 tournament, which will be held March 11-15 in Charlottetown, PEI.
The 2008 event will include two separate pools of teams competing for two different championships. Pool A will consist of the top four club teams in Canada – two from the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and two from the Western Women’s Hockey League – competing for the national championship.
Pool B, meanwhile, will also be made up of four teams competing for a national championship but will only be open to provinces that don’t have club teams in the CWHL or WWHL: Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that the tournament will again include some of Canada’s top female hockey players.
“The evolution of this event into two championships competing for separate national titles is an indication of the growth of the women's game since the first Senior Women's National Championship took place in 1982,” says Julie Healy, Hockey Canada’s director of female hockey. “That first event was a mix of club and university teams. We now have three separate championships for women, a university championship and the two events that now make up the Esso Nationals.”
Esso will once again be the title sponsor of this event.
“Esso has been closely involved in supporting women's hockey since 1994,” says Karen Fraser, marketing sponsorship manager for Esso. “Through events such as the Esso Women’s Nationals and programs such as Esso Fun Days, Esso is proud of its commitment to supporting the growth and development of women's hockey in Canada."
“As the host branch of the 2008 Esso Women’s Nationals, we are excited to welcome the top female players in the country to Charlottetown,” says Gordie Lund, president of Hockey PEI. “This is a great opportunity to showcase female hockey in our province and offer hockey fans the opportunity to see some of the game’s current and future stars.”
It was also announced on Wednesday that tickets for the six-day tournament are now on sale. A full-event package, which includes 12 preliminary games and bronze and gold medal games, is available for $59, which is a saving of $45 over individual game tickets. At this time, individual game tickets aren’t available. To purchase packages, fans can call Sport PEI at (902) 368-4110 or toll free at 1-800-247-6712.
Sami Jo Small, a four-time World champion and one-time Olympic champion with Canada’s National Women’s Team, was in Charlottetown on Wednesday to help promote the event. Small is a member of the CWHL’s Mississauga Chiefs, one of the teams eligible to participate in the Esso Women’s Nationals.
“The organizing committee’s planning is well underway for this spectacle of world-class women’s hockey,” says Gemma Koughan, host committee chair. “We thank Sami Jo Small for being with us today to help launch our ticket sales program. Over the next several months, our team will be inviting businesses, volunteers and all members of our community to become involved in this event.”