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'You’re always fighting for them’

For more than two decades, Braden Robertson has volunteered his time and given financial support to ensure the growth of girls' hockey in Vernon

Nicholas Pescod
|
April 15, 2024

For more than two decades, Braden Robertson has been a stalwart figure in the Vernon, B.C., hockey community.

Whether it’s been coaching minor hockey, helping his daughter’s hockey team or in his current role as co-chair of the Esso Cup host committee, Robertson has dedicated countless hours giving back to the game he loves. 

“I started off playing minor hockey like every other Canadian kid and just evolved from there,” Robertson says about his passion for volunteering. 

After his playing days were over, Robertson got involved with coaching teams in the Vernon area in 2001. He took a few years off when his daughters Myah and Hannah were born but got back behind the bench when Hannah began playing hockey.

“Once my daughter started playing hockey, I got back into coaching. Head coach, assistant coach, I did all of that for quite a while,” Robertson says.

However, as Hannah, who will participate in the 2024 Esso Cup with the Thompson-Okanagan Lakers, grew older and began playing at a higher level, Robertson took a step back from coaching. He instead found other ways to stay involved, working to help secure sponsorships for the Lakers over the past couple of seasons. 

“When your kids get older and they play at a higher level, they have higher coaching, more than my experience,” Robertson says. “You’ve always been a part of the game, and now you’re like ‘Where can I fit in, how can I help out?’ and that’s my part, helping out wherever is needed.” 

And that’s exactly what he’s done. This past summer, Roberston built a dressing room for the Lakers inside Kal Tire Place. A business owner and contractor by trade, Robertson covered the majority of the construction costs — close to $7,000 — and secured sponsorship funding to cover whatever was outstanding. 

“I wish we could have done this sooner,” he says. “It leaves a bit of a legacy on my behalf of the sport that I love playing and watching and it was nice to give back. It's nice that they have a home instead of having to use a broom closet or something. They now have something that they take pride in and that’s awesome. You’re always fighting for them.”

Robertson has also led numerous sponsorship initiatives over the years, raising thousands of dollars for the Lakers. Robertson says he’s proud of how the people of Vernon have come together over the years to ensure the girls have a chance. 

“It obviously pays some of the bills that it helps families out the parents out, lowers the cost, brings the community in with the team,” he says. “I can’t say enough about the community I live in. Their mindset with kids and sports here is huge. It’s a very giving community. We’ve surrounded ourselves with very good people. We love giving back and I do too.” 

Kevin Bathurst, who shares Esso Cup co-chair duties, says without Robertson, the Lakers dressing room never gets built. 

“This team finally has a home and it’s been a long time coming,” says Bathurst, who is also the executive director of hockey operations with the Greater Vernon Minor Hockey Association. “I think it is a legacy that Braden can hang his hat on. That dressing room is going to be a mainstay in the community for a very long time. The girls can walk down the hallway where the dressing rooms are at Kal Tire Place and see a Lakers logo, not just a Vernon Vipers logo. It’s through some of Braden’s hard work that they’ve got the recognition and the facilities that these girls deserve.” 

Today, Robertson serves alongside Bathurst as they work to ensure Vernon and Kal Tire Place are ready to host Canada’s Women’s U18 National Club Championship. He’s excited for the girls who will be participating in the tournament and the impact the event will have on the broader community — profits will be going towards the creation of a post-secondary scholarship fund and a grassroots development fund that will support girls’ hockey in the region. 

“I'm looking forward to all the kids coming. Hopefully we put a good product out there and they enjoy it because this is one of the biggest tournaments these girls are ever going to play in,” Robertson says. “We are giving back to the community through scholarships, and we have a grassroots program that will help young girls get into hockey that maybe couldn’t afford it. It will help them out with the bills, whether it is hockey equipment or team fees, league fees or whatnot.” 

Bathurst says Robertson has been the “flagship volunteer” for girls’ hockey in the Vernon area and that his dedication and commitment to the game is unparalleled.

“You couldn't find a better volunteer and champion of female hockey than Braden,” says Bathurst.
“He really is an example for many of us to follow in terms of the growth of the female game.” 

At the end of the day, Robertson says giving back to the game he loves so much isn’t just about hockey, it’s about shaping the next generation of adults and having a positive impact early in life. 

“It’s about trying to create good human beings, members of society that can move on and work hard,” he says. “It’s about finding out what they are good at. It’s about being a good human being and I think hockey and all sports are that way. Sometimes people lean too much towards the sport itself, but we are raising these young adults that will have to contribute one day.”



Host locations selected for 2025 Esso and TELUS Cups

Alberta and British Columbia to host Canada’s U18 national club championships

NR.029.24
|
April 30, 2024

CALGARY, Alberta – Hockey Canada has announced the host locations for Canada’s 2025 U18 national club championships, with the Esso Cup set for Lloydminster, Alberta, and the TELUS Cup returning west to the Fraser Valley in British Columbia.

From April 20-26, the Lloydminster Steelers of the Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL) will welcome five regional champions to compete for Canada’s Women’s U18 National Club Championship at the Centennial Civic Centre, marking the fifth time the Esso Cup has been hosted in Alberta and the first in the Border City.

The Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the B.C. Elite Hockey League (BCEHL) will make their national championship debut at the TELUS Cup from April 21-27 at the Chilliwack Coliseum, with Canada’s Men’s U18 National Club Championship returning to British Columbia for the first time since 2017. 

“Hosting a national championship is a tremendous undertaking, and we are grateful for the local organizing committees, Hockey Alberta and BC Hockey, for collaborating with our staff to host first-class events in Lloydminster and Chilliwack next spring,” said Pat McLaughlin, Hockey Canada’s chief operating officer and executive vice-president of strategy. “Canada’s U18 national club championships have seen some of the top athletes in our country compete before they’ve gone on to wear the Maple Leaf internationally, and we know hockey fans in Alberta and British Columbia will enjoy watching teams play for gold next spring.”

Fans can sign up now to receive ticket information about the 2025 Esso Cup and 2025 TELUS Cup as it becomes available, or become a Hockey Canada Insider and receive advanced access to tickets and other promotions.

“These tournaments are often once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for the participants, families and fans, and thanks to the generous support of Esso and TELUS, we are excited to build on the legacy of both events in two outstanding hockey markets,” said Dean McIntosh, senior vice-president of revenue, fan experience and community impact for Hockey Canada. “We thank all communities that expressed interest in hosting one of these national championships next season and look forward to welcoming the best under-18 clubs in the country in the spring.”

At the 2024 Esso Cup, the Regina Rebels won their first national title in Vernon, B.C., while the Cantonniers de Magog became national champions for the second time at the 2024 TELUS Cup in Membertou, Nova Scotia. Both gold medal games were broadcast on TSN and RDS, the official broadcast partners of Hockey Canada.

To learn more about Hockey Canada, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along through social media on FacebookX and Instagram.

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Regina Rebels win 2024 Esso Cup

North York Storm takes home silver medal; Edmonton Jr. Oilers win bronze

NR.027.24
|
April 28, 2024

VERNON, British Columbia –The Regina Rebels have won their first Esso Cup, defeating the North York Storm 2-1 in thrilling fashion on Saturday afternoon to win gold at Canada’s Women’s U18 National Club Championship.

Berlin Lolacher (Pilot Butte, SK), who was named the top forward of the tournament, scored the opening goal midway through the second period, beating Storm netminder Jamie Sanford (Toronto, ON). Sanford proved tough to beat, stopping 47 of the 49 shots Regina fired her way.

“This is an unbelievable feeling,” Lolacher said. “I don’t have words to describe this feeling. After the bronze medal last year, we had one goal: to win this tournament. And here we are. This is amazing.”

The tournament’s most valuable player, Stryker Zablocki (Prince Albert, SK), scored the eventual game-winner just two minutes after Lolacher broke the deadlock.

"To go from bronze (in 2023) to gold was our only thought this week,” added Zablocki . “Saskatchewan is always known as a bit of an underdog but here we are, and there is no group of girls I would rather go to battle with. I love this team; these girls and this feeling is something we will always remember. I’m so proud of how hard we worked to get to this point and to call ourselves national champions… it’s special.”

Lily Paisley (Mount Albert, ON) brought the Storm within one with a late power-play goal, but Rebels netminder Hannah Tresek (Regina, SK) shut the door in the final minutes, making four saves as the clock wound down. Tresek finished with 26 saves.

Edmonton Jr. Oilers defeat Thompson-Okanagan Lakers to win bronze

Earlier in the day, Edmonton rebounded from a 4-1 loss to North York in the semifinals to win the bronze medal, defeating host Thompson-Okanagan 1-0 in overtime to secure the program's fifth Esso Cup bronze medal.

Captain Layla Matthew (Edmonton, AB) scored the game-winner just over four minutes into the extra frame.

Mackenzie Gould-Sharpe (Red Deer, AB) earned the shutout, making 12 saves. The Jr. Oilers, who finished in first place in the preliminary round, outshot the Lakers 35-12.

Following the game, the Esso Cup award winners were announced:

Top Goaltender – Jorja Burrows (New Glasgow, NS / Northern Selects)
Top Defender – Ciara Lang (Edmonton, AB / Edmonton Jr. Oilers)
Top Forward – Berlin Lolacher (Pilot Butte, SK / Regina Rebels)
Most Sportsmanlike Player – Sydney Bowness (Toronto, ON / North York Storm)
Esso Cup Scholarship – Lily Roberts (Vernon, BC / Thompson-Okanagan Lakers)
Most Valuable Player – Stryker Zablocki (Prince Albert, SK / Regina Rebels)

For more information on Hockey Canada and the 2024 Esso Cup, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along through social media on Facebook, X and Instagram, and by using #EssoCup.

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Callie Dach during an Esso Cup game in Vernon.

Carrying on her family name

Hockey is deeply rooted in the Dach family, and with Callie Dach competing at the Esso Cup, she’s continuing a family tradition of competing at a high level

Katie Brickman
|
April 23, 2024

Playing hockey on the outdoor rink was a rite of passage for Callie Dach. Now she gets to continue another Dach tradition—hockey at the highest level.

The 17-year-old is looking to help the Edmonton Jr. Oilers to an Esso Cup championship this week in Vernon, B.C.

“Going through this experience has been awesome and sharing it with all these girls is special,” Dach says.

Dach is a 5-foot-9 defender from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, and is the younger sister to Kirby and Colton Dach, who both wore the Maple Leaf at the IIHF World Junior Championship. Kirby now plays for the Montreal Canadiens, while Colton—a Chicago Blackhawks prospect—spent this season with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.

Hockey has always been an important bonding opportunity for the Dach siblings, and the trio has spent hours on the backyard rink and the outdoor rink at the lake.

“Hockey helps me connect with my brothers and be a part of something together. It’s nice always having a shared interest with them,” Dach says. “Seeing them make it is a super proud moment for me and my family, to know they’ve made their dreams come true after all the hours they put into working for it.”

Dach first laced up her skates at a young age, playing organized hockey when she was five years old. Like many younger siblings, she wanted to be just like her older brothers.

“Always going to the rink and watching my brothers, it made me want to follow in their footsteps and be almost as good as them and compete against them in any way I could,” she says.

For parents Dale and Hillary, seeing their children have these experiences is a highlight, but it’s more than that—it's about the bigger picture of how hockey enriches their lives.

“It’s about belonging to a group that is working together for something. The accomplishments, the highs and the lows ... it gives you a lot of ways to learn later in life how to handle adversity and success in life,” Dale says. “Hockey has given them a lot of great avenues for meeting people. I played the game when I was younger and the connections and contacts that I have are lifelong, so it was a big part of my life and a big part of our family.”

The Edmonton Jr. Oilers are back at the Esso Cup after nearly a decade-long absence, having previously won three bronze medals as the Thunder. Dach and her teammates finished second in the Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL) with a 21-7-2 record with strong goaltending leading the way.

“I think we are very well-balanced, and everyone is there for the right reasons. We’ve done a really good job of buying into what we all believe in, and we have lots of culture and identity within the room—we share a special bond,” Dach says. “Playing hockey with all these girls has given me another family and is an outlet for me.”

Callie’s parents will be making the nine-hour trek to Vernon to cheer on the Jr. Oilers and would love to see the team have success after all the hard work their daughter has put into her craft.

“We are very proud of Callie and very excited to see how she and the team do at the Esso Cup,” Dale says. “You don’t get these opportunities every day—many families don’t get these opportunities—so the biggest thing is just to sit back and enjoy the ride and do the best you can and make sure you have fun with it.”

Playing hockey and being competitive come naturally to the Dach parents—both Dale and Hillary played sports competitively growing up. Dale played hockey and Hillary skied. Having their children grow up around sport wasn’t always about reaching the highest level, but more about effort.

“We’ve always taught our kids that no matter what you’re doing—whether it’s schoolwork, sports or working—you always put in the best effort,” Dale says.

Over the years, Dach has focused on improving her game and feels like she has made strides on both sides of the puck.

“I am very strong defensively. I like to go to work in the corners and get pucks outs,” she said. “On the offensive side, I like my shot.”

Callie is committed to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology next season and the Dach family will be there to support her in the next transition of her game.

“She’s very driven and we're just very proud of her and excited to watch what all things hold for her,” Dale says.

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North York Storm after winning the OWHA Provincials.

Road to the 2024 Esso Cup: North York Storm

The Ontario champions may be one of the youngest teams in Vernon, but they are aiming to make the most of their first national appearance

Shannon Coulter
|
April 20, 2024

It is a tremendous feat to qualify for the Esso Cup, especially if you are competing against 51 other teams in the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA).

After narrowly missing out on qualifying for the Esso Cup last year—losing in the gold medal game at OWHA Provincials to the eventual Esso Cup champion Stoney Creek Sabres—the North York Storm had another strong season that has led to their first appearance at Canada’s Women’s U18 National Club Championship.

The Storm went 17-2-2 during the regular season to finish fourth in the OWHL Southern standings. After defeating the Central York Panthers, Toronto Aeros, Sudbury Lady Wolves and 2022 Esso Cup champion Durham West Lightning in the playoffs, the Storm edged the Stratford Aces 3-2 in a shootout to become OWHL Southern champions.

The momentum from the league playoffs carried into the provincial tournament, where the Storm allowed only four goals in an undefeated run to punch their ticket to the Esso Cup.

North York will be one of the youngest teams on the ice in Vernon, with an average age of 14.86 years old. However, Ontario teams have had great success in recent years. The last two winners, Stoney Creek and Durham West, hailed from Ontario, and the region has not finished lower than fourth place in tournament history.

HOW THEY GOT TO VERNON

Ontario Women’s Hockey Association

Playdowns: 2-0-2 – 1st place in Region Q (tied Toronto Leaside Wildcats 2-2; defeated Etobicoke Dolphins 3-0; defeated Scarborough Sharks 4-0; tied Toronto Aeros 1-1)
Preliminary round: 3-0-0 – 1st place in Group A (defeated Ancaster Avalanche 6-0; defeated Clarington Flames 3-0; defeated London Devilettes 4-0)
Quarterfinal: defeated Sudbury Lady Wolves 3-1
Semifinal: defeated Waterloo Ravens 3-1
Final: defeated North Halton Twisters 5-2

REGULAR SEASON

Record (W-L-T): 17-2-2 (4th in OWHL-Southern)
Goals for: 77 (2nd in OWHL-Southern)
Goals against: 35 (T-16th in OWHL-Southern)
Longest winning streak: 9 (Dec. 9-Feb. 4)

Top 3 scorers:
- Demi Lazarou – 13G 12A 25P
- Anabella Van Berkel – 14G 7A 21P
- Lily Paisley – 12G 7A 19P

PLAYOFFS

Record: 8-0-2
Goals for: 34
Goals against: 7

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

First appearance

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Intrépide de l'Outaouais

Road to the 2024 Esso Cup: Intrépide de l’Outaouais

After missing out on qualifying for the Esso Cup by one overtime goal last year, the Intrépide are back and ready to compete on the national stage for the first time

Shannon Coulter
|
April 19, 2024

The Intrépide de l’Outaouais were an overtime goal away from going to the Esso Cup last year.

After finishing third in the regular season, Outaouais had the best record at the 2023 Coupe Chevrolet, going undefeated until the final, where they suffered a 4-3 overtime loss to the Étoiles de Laurentides-Lanaudière.

But this year, the Intrépide came back stronger and better than ever.

Since it joined the Ligue de hockey d'excellence du Québec (LHEQ) in 2018-19, the team has slowly been climbing up the standings. This season, the Intrépide finished atop the LHEQ for the first time in team history with a 25-2-1 record.

The team carried that success from the regular season into the Coupe Chevrolet provincial championship, allowing just three goals in four games on the road to a rematch against Laurentides-Lanaudière in the final. This time, the Intrépide shut out the Étoiles 2-0 to earn a spot at the 2024 Esso Cup in Vernon—the first for Outaouais.

Laurence Lafleur helped to lead the Intrépide to the national stage; the 16-year-old was the LHEQ scoring leader this season with 42 goals and 59 points before adding four goals and nine points in the playoffs.

HOW THEY GOT TO VERNON

Coupe Chevrolet
Preliminary round: defeated As de Québec 2-1, defeated Amazones de Laval-Montréal 10-0
Quarterfinal: defeated Harfangs de Sherbrooke 3-1
Semifinal: defeated As de Québec 3-1
Final: defeated Étoiles de Laurentides-Lanaudière 2-0

REGULAR SEASON

Record (W-L-OTL): 25-2-1 (1st in LHEQ)
Goals for: 130 (1st in LHEQ)
Goals against: 43 (2nd in LHEQ)
Longest winning streak: 11 (Jan. 21-March 31)

Top 3 scorers:
- Laurence Lafleur – 42G 17A 59P (1st in LHEQ)
- Kélia Gilbert – 15G 18A 33P (5th in LHEQ)
- Geneviève Godin – 16G 15A 31P (6th in LHEQ)

PLAYOFFS

Record: 5-0
Goals for: 20
Goals against: 3

Top 3 scorers:
- Laurence Lafleur – 4G 5A 9P
- Maya de Beaumont– 4G 2A 6P
- Kélia Gilbert – 2G 4A 6P

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

First appearance

UNIVERSITY COMMITMENTS

Gabrielle Brochu – Cégep Heritage
Paige Dubeau – Dawson College
Kélia Gilbert – Cégep Limoilou
Geneviève Godin – Champlain College
Laurence Lafleur – Champlain College
Élyssa Lalonde – Champlain College
Anabelle Legault – Cégep Heritage
Anabelle Monfils – Dawson College
Jade Poulin – Cégep Heritage
Gabrielle Roy – John-Abbott College

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In my own words: Adam Dixon

The Team Canada veteran talks about the summers at Campfire Circle that changed his life, and why he’s still giving back to the camp as a volunteer

Adam Dixon
|
April 19, 2024

Growing up and going to school in Midland, Ontario, I was always The Kid With Cancer.

I mean, it makes sense. Midland is only 17,000 people, and there weren’t many kids who had cancer.

I was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma when I was 10. It’s a rare type of cancer that typically attacks the bones in your legs and pelvis. Mine was in my right tibia. It was removed and replaced with a donor bone, along with a metal plate and multiple screws.

So I was a kid, and I had cancer.

But when I went to Campfire Circle, I was so much more than that.

Campfire Circle is a summer camp for kids with cancer, or those who have been affected by cancer – like kids who have lost siblings. Everybody was The Kid With Cancer, so your other traits got to show through. I was The Athletic Kid, I was The Fun Kid. It was my little two-week escape every summer.

I have no idea how my parents found the camp, I just remember I was signed up and on the bus. And the six summers I spent there changed my life.

At camp, I was able to just be myself. I wasn't the kid that was timekeeping the hockey games because I couldn't play anymore. I was the kid that was involved. I was the kid that was running around, having a good time, doing stuff that my mom would never have allowed me to do at home. But at camp, where there are doctors on site, there's a little bit more freedom. If I break my leg, everything's going to be fine.

The camp is so well set up for people that were in my situation. You could have chemotherapy at camp. It's accessible, so you can do stuff that's not an option for most kids at home.

It’s a breath of fresh air, in more ways than one. The camp is in Muskoka, so you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful place. And just to be outdoors all day, yes please. We'd play road hockey. There's a giant slip and slide. And most of all, it’s just the time spent with your fellow campers pulling pranks on the other campers or the other cabin groups.

Again, it changed my life.

For a lot of years, para hockey was everything. All of my vacation time went to hockey. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I’ve been able to travel, win world championships, play at the Paralympics. I’ve spent most of the last two decades wearing the Hockey Canada logo on my chest and representing my country. Amazing.

But after the Paralympics in 2018, I started focusing on other things in my life. And one of those was Campfire Circle. I had signed up to volunteer prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the camp was shut down for a few summers because it’s a very vulnerable group.

As soon as we were able to go, I was back. I've been there for two summers now as a full-time volunteer. My partner and I are both volunteers. We've done some weekends at camps as well, which is a fun little way to escape the grind of life.

I was a cabin counsellor my first year and I also ran the wood shop, helping kids stay safe. I can just imagine people I know reading this and laughing… I’m basically a giant kid. Who would trust me with sharp tools?

It was a little daunting at first, but I figured it out. Last summer, they needed someone to help out with a whitewater canoe trip. That's something I've never done before, but they needed someone, so I'm in. Just point and shoot, right? I ended up spending two weeks on the French River. It was outside of my abilities, but we figured it out. This summer I'm back as a cabin counsellor, so I'm just a stay-at-home parent, basically. I just run with the kids all day, so that's pretty fun.

I do have one specific goal for this year, though. My birthday is August 13, so when I was a kid I’d always have my birthday at camp. When you're a camper you get to pick three counsellors to throw in the lake. As a counsellor, I have yet to be cool enough that I get thrown in the lake, so this summer I have to figure out which kids have birthdays and then really pester them so they'll throw me in the lake.

I really want to get chucked in the lake.

One thing I’ve been asked, as someone who is “in charge,” is if there’s pressure on the counsellors. Some people may think that there’s this huge need to make it an unbelievable experience because of what these kids have been through, but it just happens naturally. The kids have fought cancer. That's the worst thing that's probably ever going to happen to them. Going to camp, that's easy. They create their own fun. Some of it is built into the camp atmosphere, sure, but when that thing that makes you “different” at home no longer means as much, you're just yourself and that's pretty cool.

I’ll admit, sometimes volunteering can be a bit selfish. Getting away from society for two weeks is a great little break. I can be silly, I can have fun, I can not be an adult for 14 days. But once I’m there, really, it’s about the kids.

I know how much fun I had when I was 11 years old, and I want to bring that same amount of fun to the campers. I think about when I was a kid and I think about all the counsellors that I really looked up to, and I try to bring a lot of the same energy. Does it work? Who knows, you don't get feedback from the campers. They just make fun of you. But yeah, I think I do a pretty good job.

I’m going to finish with a plea of sorts. Volunteer. Get out and give back. It could be a summer camp. It could be a hockey tournament (I hear the World Juniors are coming back to Canada this winter). It could be anything. It’s about making a difference.

There are so many events around the world that can only run because of volunteers. It's an incredible way to get out and meet like-minded people, people that want to give back to their community.

So why not volunteer? It's awesome. But don’t take my word for it… get out and do it!

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Northern Selects pose on the ice after winning the 2024 Atlantic Regional.

Road to the 2024 Esso Cup: Northern Selects

The Atlantic champions continue to dominate in their region and are ready to return to the national stage for a third consecutive year

Shannon Coulter
|
April 18, 2024

With an impactful offence and an effective defence, the Northern Selects remain a force to be reckoned with.

The Selects are back at the Esso Cup for a third consecutive year, looking to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish. In Prince Albert, the Selects went 2-3 in the preliminary round before being blanked 3-0 by the eventual national champion Stoney Creek Sabres in the semifinals and falling 5-1 to the Regina Rebels in the bronze medal game.

Seven players return to Canada’s Women’s U18 National Club Championship, including 15-year-old Kendall Doiron. The 2023 Esso Cup most sportsmanlike player led the Selects with 64 points (34-30—64) in 32 regular-season games, building on her strong 2022-23 (18-13—34 in 24 games).

Northern may have the most offensively talented roster of its three-year run. Doiron, Hali-Rose MacLean, Brooke Williams and Laci Boyd finished two-three-four-five in Maritime Major Female Hockey League (MMFHL), with Aylee Glenn coming eighth . In comparison, the Selects had two players in the top 10 last year and three during the 2021-22 season.

The Selects dropped only two games during the regular season, partially thanks to the fantastic goaltending duo of Jorja Burrows and Madeleine Kerr. This will be the third Esso Cup appearance for Burrows, who had a 17-2 record in the regular season along with a 1.15 goals-against average, .951 save percentage and five shutouts. The 17-year-old also represented Team Atlantic at the Women’s U18 National Championship last November alongside Team Canada netminder Rhyah Stewart. Kerr is a Selects rookie, but still made a large impact in the crease. She had a 12-0 record, 0.92 GAA, .947 save percentage and four shutouts during the regular season.

The Selects are looking to become the first Atlantic representatives to win hardware at the Esso Cup.

HOW THEY GOT TO VERNON

Maritime Major Female Hockey League
Nova Scotia semifinal: defeated Cape Breton Lynx 3-0 (12-1, 7-0, 6-0)
Nova Scotia final: defeated Dartmouth Penguins 3-1 (2-3, 2-1, 5-0, 4-1)

Atlantic Regional
Preliminary round: 3-0-1 – 2nd place (defeated Tri-Pen Ice 6-0, defeated Western Warriors 10-2, lost to Eastern Stars 1-0, defeated Western Flames 4-0)
Championship: defeated Eastern Stars 5-2

REGULAR SEASON

Record (W-L-T): 28-2-1 (1st in MMFHL)
Goals for: 173 (1st in MMFHL)
Goals against: 35 (1st in MMFHL)
Longest winning streak: 19 (Sept. 23-Dec. 16)

Top 3 scorers:
- Kendall Doiron – 34G 30A 64P (2nd in MMFHL)
- Hali-Rose MacLean – 33G 22A 55P (3rd in MMFHL)
- Brooke Williams – 21G 24A 45P (4th in MMFHL)

PLAYOFFS

Record: 10-2
Goals for: 64
Goals against: 10

Top 3 scorers:
- Kendall Doiron – 14G 7A 21P
- Hali-Rose MacLean – 11G 9A 20P
- Laci Boyd – 6G 14A 20P

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

2023 – Northern Selects | 4th place | 2-3 | 13GF 19GA
2022 – Northern Selects | 4th place | 2-3 | 14GF 12GA
2018 – Northern Selects | 5th place | 1-4 | 12GF 19GA

UNIVERSITY COMMITMENTS

Jorja Burrows – St. Francis Xavier University

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Susan Sloan wearing a shirt that says Volunteer in front of a balloon arch.

The gratitude for volunteering

After making the choice to begin volunteering to make friends in a new town, Susan Sloan can’t imagine what her life would be like without giving back to her community

Shannon Coulter
|
April 18, 2024

Susan Sloan can’t imagine her life without volunteering. In fact, she feels her life would be the complete opposite of what it is now if she hadn’t started donating her time.

Throughout her life, Sloan has had a variety of different jobs, from working in a bakery to an IT specialist and a fitness instructor at the YMCA. After moving to Orleans, Ontario—a community in the east end of Ottawa—in the early 2000s, Sloan took a one-year contact with Volunteer Canada that would change the course of her life.

“I thought since I’m working as their membership manager, I probably should know a little bit more about this volunteering thing,” she says. “But I had already decided that volunteering was the route that I wanted to take, really just to start making friends because I literally had none.”

Her first volunteer position was with Canadian Heritage to help with their Winter Lights Across Canada event. From there, she learned about Winterlude in Ottawa and decided to volunteer for it as well. By then she was on a roll, so she signed up to help with the Canada Day festivities.

“Those were my signature events—every year, with the exception of COVID, you would find me at all three of those events come hell or high water,” she says. “That was my core, and they are still my core to this day: 22 years later, I’m still volunteering with Canadian Heritage.”

Susan Sloan lies down in front to pose with a group of volunteers at a Canadian Heritage event in Ottawa

Interspersed between her three core events, Sloan got involved in “little adventures” to explore new volunteer experiences in areas she was interested in.

“I loved sports, so I would pretty much put myself into any event that needed volunteers,” she explains. “In Ottawa, it’s like a laundry list of opportunities; you could be busy every weekend starting on Thursday.”

She began with a volleyball tournament, then taught Zumba at Relay for Life. Soon her volunteer experiences began snowballing into more new opportunities in sports.

“Sports has always been my happy place,” she says. “Being in a small community and in Ottawa, once you are known and you’re affiliated with certain events, you start to get asked to work other events and help out.

“I’ve had some amazing opportunities that I would never have had anything to do with had I not been a volunteer.”

When Canada’s National Women’s Team came to Ottawa in 2021 for the Rivalry Series, Sloan volunteered to help with the Olympic jersey reveal and managed guests coming into the game.

“It was really delightful working with Hockey Canada,” she says. “I really appreciated and respected the respect that we received, and the gratefulness for just doing something that was so minor.”

Later this year, the 2025 IIHF World Junior Championship will be hosted in Ottawa. Through her connections gained from volunteering and her reputation in the community, Sloan was presented with a new opportunity: to become the volunteer co-chair for World Juniors. And coming from a family that loves hockey and watches the tournament every year, she agreed.

“The fact that I was asked to do [World Juniors] … they chose me. That was a choice and to be that choice is probably one of the most rewarding things in the world. And none of this would have happened had it not been for volunteering.”

Susan Sloan poses beside a Hockey Canada welcome sign

When the puck drops in December, Sloan is most excited for the tourists and guests to experience what Ottawa has to offer.

“It’s so amazing because as volunteers, you’re in the chaos of everything,” she says. “I love the diversity it brings to the city. It brings a certain energy that the only way you’re going to know what it’s like is if you’re there. It’s amazing to be a part of something.

“People are coming in from all over the world, and you get a chance to mingle with them. You get a chance to show up for your city.”

With her experience in so many volunteer positions, Sloan has a thorough understanding of the value every volunteer brings to the table.

“The synergy that’s created when you are with like-minded people is magical. You have volunteers who, without them, no event would happen,” she says. “IIHF wouldn’t run without their volunteers. Canada Day would not run without its volunteers.”

As her experience allowed her to help others begin their volunteer journeys, Sloan has seen people blossom in ways they never thought was possible. And for Sloan, there are no words to describe the gratitude she has for making the decision to begin volunteering 22 years ago.

“Everything that I am, everything that I will be, is because of volunteering,” she says. “There are not many things in our lives that we put this much effort into that the rewards are amplified upon receipt. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without volunteering.”

Interested in volunteering when the world comes back to Ottawa this winter? Registration for the TELUS World Juniors Volunteer Program is now open!

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Regina Rebels
© Darryl Gershman/Ice Wave Media

Road to the 2024 Esso Cup: Regina Rebels

A combination of youth and experience could lead to further success on the national stage for the West Region champions and reigning Esso Cup bronze medallists

Shannon Coulter
|
April 17, 2024

Bronze medallists a year ago in Prince Albert, the Regina Rebels are returning to the Esso Cup hungry to become champions.

After consistently finishing at or near the top of the Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League (SFU18AAAHL) since 2018-19, this will be Regina’s fourth appearance at the Women’s U18 National Club Championship in tournament history. Only dropping three games during the regular season, the Rebels are undefeated since Nov. 24, riding a 26-game win streak into Vernon.

The Rebels are loaded with young talent for the second year in the row. There are eight first-year players on the roster: five forwards, one defender and one goaltender. The 2022-23 edition of the Rebels had nine first-years, and 12 are returning from last year’s Esso Cup.

Regina is an offensively strong team, led by National Women’s Under-18 Team forward Stryker Zablocki. After recording two goals and five assists in her U18 Women’s Worlds debut, the Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, native finished as the SFU18AAAHL scoring leader. Zablocki had 40 goals and 25 assists in the regular season, then added 11 goals and six helpers during the playoffs.

However, the offence is not limited to Zablocki. Berlin Lolacher (15-25—40) and Brooklyn Nimegeers (10-30—40) finished in the top five of league scoring, joined by Avery Gottselig, Addison Greve, Kadence Dansereau and Ashley Breitkreuz in the top 20.

Between the pipes, the Rebels have the best goaltending duo in Saskatchewan. Returning netminder Hannah Tresek topped the SFU18AAAHL with a 17-1 record, 1.43 goals-against average and .940 save percentage, while rookie Adriana Bashnick finished third with a 10-2 record, 1.84 GAA and .915 save percentage.

HOW THEY GOT TO VERNON

Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League
Semifinal: defeated Battlefords Sharks 2-0 (5-4, 5-4)
Final: defeated Notre Dame Hounds 2-0 (7-3, 4-1)

West Regional
Championship: defeated Winnipeg Ice 2-0 (4-3 OT, 3-1)

REGULAR SEASON

Record (W-OTW-OTL-L): 26-1-0-3 (1st in SFU18AAAHL)
Goals for: 151 (1st in SFU18AAAHL)
Goals against: 50 (1st in SFU18AAAHL)
Longest winning streak: 20 (Nov. 24-March 4)

Top 3 scorers:
- Stryker Zablocki – 40G 25A 65P (1st in SFU18AAAHL)
- Berlin Lolacher – 15G 25A 40P (4th in SFU18AAAHL)
- Brooklyn Nimegeers – 10G 30A 40P (5th in SFU18AAAHL)

PLAYOFFS

Record: 6-0
Goals for: 28
Goals against: 16

Top 3 scorers:
- Stryker Zablocki – 11G 6A 17P
- Berlin Lolacher – 4G 5A 9P
- Brooklyn Nimegeers – 1G 4A 5P

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

2023 – Regina Rebels | bronze medal | 3-2 | 21GF 16GA
2013 – Regina Rebels | 4th place | 3-2 | 17GF 11GA
2010 – Regina Rebels | 4th place | 3-2 | 12GF 10GA

UNIVERSITY COMMITMENTS

Ashley Breitkreuz – Trinity Western University
Avery Gottselig – University of Saskatchewan
Emily Karpan – Trinity Western University
Berlin Lolacher – Mercyhurst University
Brooklyn Nimegeers – Princeton University
Stryker Zablocki – Northeastern University

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Road to the 2024 Esso Cup: Edmonton Jr. Oilers

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Edmonton Jr. Oilers are back at the big dance on the back of lights-out goaltending

Nicholas Pescod
|
April 16, 2024

Once a fixture of the Esso Cup, the Edmonton Jr. Oilers are back at Canada’s Women’s U18 National Club Championship after nearly a decade-long absence.

From the inception of the Esso Cup in 2009 until 2015, the Jr. Oilers, known then as the Thunder, made a record seven consecutive appearances. The run included trips to the gold medal game in 2011 and 2014, and bronze-medal finishes in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Nine years later, they’re back. So, how did they do it? They had a fantastic regular season, finishing second in the Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL) with a record of 21-7-2 and winning their last eight games. They were also second-best in goal scoring with 104 in 30 games and co-led the AFHL by allowing only 41.

Powering the Jr. Oilers were forward Daniella Martorana (15-18—33) and defender Ella Lloyd (17-14—31), who finished atop the AFHL in points among all blue-liners.

At the back end, Ella Dunham-Fox (7-3, 1.14 GAA, .944 SV%) and Mackenzie Gould-Sharpe (12-3, 1.15 GAA, .943 SV%) were sensational. The duo finished one-two in goals-against average and save percentage, and Gould-Sharpe’s five shutouts put her third among netminders.

The Jr. Oilers cruised through the preliminary round at the Alberta provincial championship with a perfect 3-0 record, and a nail-biting 2-1 win over the Red Deer Chiefs – the only team to finish above Edmonton in the regular season – secured an AFHL title. Edmonton allowed just four goals in four playoff games.

That championship came with a trip to the national tournament when the Thompson-Okanagan Lakers – the Esso Cup hosts – clinched the B.C. Elite Hockey League title, sending the Jr. Oilers to Vernon as Pacific representatives.

HOW THEY GOT TO VERNON

Alberta Female Hockey League 
Preliminary round: 1st place – defeated Calgary Fire 3-1, defeated St. Albert Slash 2-1, defeated Red Deer Chiefs 3-1)
Championship game: defeated Red Deer Chiefs 2-1

REGULAR SEASON

Record (W-L-OTL): 21-7-2 (2nd in AFHL)
Goals for: 104 (2nd in AFHL)
Goals against: 41 (tied for 1st in AFHL)
Longest winning streak: 8 (Feb. 2-25)
Top 3 scorers:
- Daniella Martorana – 15G 18A 33P (3rd in AFHL)
- Ella Lloyd – 17G 14A 31P (4th in AFHL)
- Tayla Lamabe – 15G 11A 26P (6th in AFHL)

PLAYOFFS

Record: 4-0
Goals for: 10
Goals against: 4
Top 3 scorers:
- Claire Carruthers – 2G 3A 5P
- Ciara Lang – 2G 1A 3P
- Tayla Lamabe – 2G 0A 2P

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

2015 – Edmonton Thunder | 5th place | 2-3 | 9GF 10GA
2014 – Edmonton Thunder | silver medal | 3-4 | 16GF 18GA
2013 – Edmonton Thunder | bronze medal | 6-1 | 23GF 18GA
2012 – Edmonton Thunder | bronze medal | 3-4 | 15GF 12GA
2011 – Edmonton Thunder | silver medal | 6-1 | 26GF 12GA
2010 – Edmonton Thunder | bronze medal | 3-4 | 17GF 18GA
2009 – Edmonton Thunder | 4th place | 2-4 | 17GF 14GA

UNIVERSITY COMMITMENTS

Claire Carruthers – St. Francis Xavier University
Callie Dach – Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Aeryn Flanagan – University of Saskatchewan
Mackenzie Gould-Sharpe – Lakeland College
Camryn Karaki – Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
Ella Lloyd – Northeastern University
Layla Matthew – Clarkson University
Riley Scorgie – Cornell University
Maren Stachniak – SUNY Cortland

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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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Schedule
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Prague & Ostrava, Czechia
Date: May 10 to 26
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Edmonton, Alta., Canada
Date: Aug 3 to 10