2021 wu18 lucy phillips

New country, new passion

After moving to Canada from England, Lucy Phillips not only found friends through hockey, but created unforgettable memories along the way

Shannon Coulter
August 2, 2021

When Lucy Phillips moved to Canada from England at the age of four with her parents and her brother, there was one thing she noticed right away: everyone seemed to play hockey.

So, after her family settled in Upper Tantallon, N.S., she decided to take up the sport. With stars like Sidney Crosby emerging from her province, Phillips felt it was her way to embrace Canadian culture.

“It felt right to join hockey,” she says. “It was the sport everyone supported coming here… it just kind of made sense to play hockey. Everyone would talk about it.”

The 16-year-old played other sports growing up, including England’s beloved football, but her heart was always drawn back to hockey. Phillips started out as a skater, but she quickly developed an interest in playing between the pipes.

“I would look at myself in the glass and I’d be like, ‘I’m massive,’ so I wanted to try out goalie,” she says. “I just loved it ever since.”

With a different helmet, gloves and a little extra padding, Phillips’ hockey career jumped to new heights—and she hasn’t looked back. The netminder was named an all-star at Nova Scotia provincials for three consecutive years. She also earned Top Goaltender honours at the Bantam AAA Atlantic Championship and was named the top goalie in the Maritime Major Female Hockey League in her rookie year of U18 AAA with the Station Six Fire.

But one of her biggest career moments was playing in the longest hockey game in Nova Scotia history. Her TASA Ducks took on the Pictou County Selects in a provincial championship game in 2016 that lasted 10 periods—close to five hours. Phillips saved a penalty shot in the seventh period to keep the game tied at 1-1, with both teams eventually announced as co-champions.

“It was my first year with girls hockey and it was just a lot of pressure, but I kind of liked it. I rose to the occasion,” she says. “We had so many overtimes and I had a [penalty shot] in one of the overtimes, so it was a lot of pressure, but it was probably the best year of girls hockey [for me].”

Her hockey career has also brought a unique connection with another Canadian netminder. After noticing Phillips’ pads were getting small, goaltending coach Joe Johnston reached out to Ann-Renée Desbiens, a puck-stopper with Canada’s National Women’s Team.

“Next thing I know I’m getting tickets to the U.S.-Canada series in Moncton, and I went and met her,” Phillips explains.

But the young goaltender was in for a bigger surprise than just tickets; after the game, Desbiens offered Phillips her previously worn pads and gloves, since they were a similar size. Knowing how expensive goalie gear can be, the 27-year-old says she likes to give back to younger players since she gets her equipment for free.

“It’s still usually in very good shape when I change,” Desbiens says. “[Johnston] kept talking to me about her attitude, how she was as a person, so I thought she was the right fit.”

Since then, Phillips says Desbiens sent her another set of pads and some sticks last year. They have also stayed in touch over text, with Desbiens always happy to answer any of Phillips’ questions.

From meeting in Moncton to both goalies flying to Calgary to attend Summer Showcase camps this year, Desbiens has enjoyed acting like a big sister to Phillips.

“It’s been really great to be able to kind of help her along the path to come to Team Canada,” Desbiens says. “I know when I gave her the first set of gear, it was always her goal, so this year here it’s very rewarding.”

Phillips has also been very keen to share moments at Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team summer development camp with the veteran goaltender.

“She’s super excited,” Desbiens says. “She sent me a picture of her with the Hockey Canada jersey and my gear, so I was pretty excited to see that and then just to see a smile on her face.”

She’s not the only one smiling. Knowing she has had such an impact on Phillips’ hockey career has brought a lot of joy to Desbiens as well.

“That’s definitely our role as older players in the program, we do want to inspire the younger generation,” she says. “When you see that they see you as a role model, that they want to be like you, I think it means you’ve done something right.”

For Phillips, playing hockey has not only allowed her to find her passion, but it helped to ease her transition into a new country and brought personal fulfillment.

“It’s just a great atmosphere,” she says of the hockey community. “Parents get to know other players’ parents, you get to know so many friends and if you’re in an area, you get to go to school with them too.

“The places you’ll travel and things you’ll experience are a lifetime of memories.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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