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Semifinal Saturday is set at the National Women's Under-18 Championship in Huntsville, Ont.

Defending champion Ontario Red joined by Ontario Blue, B.C. and Manitoba

NR.136.15
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November 07, 2015

CALGARY, Alta. – After three days of preliminary action at the 2015 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, the semifinals are set for Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Canada Summit Centre in Huntsville.

Manitoba, which finished second in Group A, will take on the first place finishers from Group B, Ontario Blue, in the first semifinal at 4:30 p.m. ET, while Ontario Red, which finished atop Pool A, faces off against British Columbia in the second semifinal at 7:30 p.m. ET. The winners of the semifinals will face off for the gold medal at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 8.

Placement games start off semifinal Saturday with Group A’s fourth place finisher Saskatchewan facing Alberta, which finished in fourth place in Group B, at 10:30 a.m. ET. The fifth place matchup features Quebec taking on Atlantic at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Placement games, semifinals and the bronze medal game can be seen live via FASTHockey webcast at www.hockeycanada.ca/nwu18c, while TSN and RDS, the official broadcasters for Hockey Canada, will broadcast the gold medal game Sunday, Nov. 8 at 4:30 p.m. ET on TSN 3 (tape delayed on RDS on Nov. 9).

Tickets for the placement games and the semifinals are available onsite at the Canada Summit Centre for $15 each and tickets to the bronze and gold medal games are available for $20.

A number of development activities, including female skills camps, have been taking place during the championship, with a camp set for the Canada Summit Centre on Nov. 7. Esso Fun Day takes place Nov. 8 at 11:00 a.m. ET. For more information on how to get involved, please email Mandi Duhamel, Hockey Canada’s manager of female development, at [email protected]

The 2015 tournament marks the third time Ontario has hosted the National Women’s Under-18 Championship, joining previous host committees Kitchener (2007) and Napanee (2008). The championship is also the first of two major women’s events Ontario will host during the 2015-16 season, as St. Catherine’s, Ont., will host the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship from Jan. 8-15, 2016.

For more information on the 2015 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, please visit www.hockeycanada.ca/nwu18c and follow along via social media at www.facebook.com/womensu18 and www.twitter.com/hc_nwu18.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Esther Madziya, Hockey Canada’s media relations coordinator, is onsite in Huntsville for the National Women’s Under-18 Championship. For all interview requests, please contact her via email at [email protected] or by phone at (403) 519-5754.

Host locations selected for 2024 fall events

Ontario to host U17 World Challenge, Atlantic Canada to welcome U18 Women’s National Championship and Para Cup

NR.037.24
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May 28, 2024

CALGARY, Alberta – Hockey Canada has announced the host communities for three of its fall events: the 2024 U17 World Challenge, 2024 U18 Women’s National Championship and 2024 Para Cup.

“These events play a critical role in the development of men’s, women’s and para hockey athletes, coaches, officials and staff, and we are thrilled to be bringing them to communities in Ontario, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island,” said Pat McLaughlin, chief operating officer and executive vice-president of strategy. “They are an excellent opportunity to create lifelong memories and leave a legacy in each community for years to come.”

The 2024 U17 World Challenge will be played Nov. 1-9 in Sarnia, Ontario. It is the seventh time Ontario will play host to the tournament, and the second time in Sarnia, following 2014.

The 2024 U18 Women’s National Championship will run Nov. 3-9 in Quispamsis, New Brunswick, bringing the event – and the future stars of the women’s game – to Atlantic Canada for the first time.

Canada’s National Para Hockey Team, which won a home-ice gold medal at the 2024 World Para Hockey Championship earlier this month, will compete against three countries at the 2024 Para Cup, which will be held Dec. 8-14 in Charlottetown, P.E.I. It is the fifth time the tournament will be held in the Birthplace of Confederation and coincides with the 50th anniversary of ParaSport & Recreation PEI.

Fans can sign up now to receive ticket information 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 participants, families and fans,” said Dean McIntosh, vice-president of strategic partnerships and community impact. “I’m confident in the host committees in these three great hockey markets and know we are set up for success with the passionate hockey fans and volunteers in each community.”

In the spring, Canada’s U18 Women’s National Club Championship will be decided at the 2025 Esso Cup, April 20-26 in Lloydminster, Alberta , while the U18 Men’s National Club Championship will be up for grabs April 21-27 at the 2025 TELUS Cup in Chilliwack, B.C.

The host communities for the 2025 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, and 2024 Junior A World Challenge will be announced at a later date.

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

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Ontario Red wins gold at 2023 National Women's U18 Championship

Quebec earns eighth silver medal; B.C. wins bronze on home ice

NR.080.23
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November 12, 2023

DAWSON CREEK, British Columbia – Ontario Red has won its sixth-consecutive gold medal at the National Women’s Under-18 Championship, defeating Quebec 3-2 in overtime at the Ovintiv Events Centre on Saturday night.

Ontario Red has captured gold in 13 of the 14 national championships since the inaugural tournament in 2001, while Quebec earned its eighth silver medal and first since 2016.

Mackenzie Alexander (Toronto, ON/Etobicoke, OWHA U22 Elite) scored the golden goal, knocking in a rebound on an Ontario Red power play just 25 seconds into overtime. The goal left her tied for the tournament lead in goals (five) and points (nine).

After a scoreless first period, Rosalie Tremblay (Sherbrooke, QC/Stanstead College, JWHL) struck first for Quebec 4:01 into the second period. Claire Murdoch (Toronto, ON/Burlington, OWHA U22 Elite) and Alexander scored power-play goals at just over two minutes apart in the third period to give Ontario Red its first lead before Victoria Veilleux (Saint-Georges, QC/Champlain-Lennoxville, RSEQ) tied the game for Quebec with 4:18 left to force overtime.

“I was just lucky enough to be right there to tap it in,” Alexander said of her overtime winner. “We are such a tight-knit group, so to win gold with these girls is such an honour. This is an absolute dream come true.”

Marilou Grenier (Québec, QC/Québec, LHEQ U18) made 43 saves in a terrific performance for the silver medallists, while Hannah Clark (Oshawa, ON/Etobicoke, OWHA U22 Elite) stopped 16 of 18 to record the win for Ontario Red.

“[Heading into overtime] I went in right away and told the girls we are winning this, we have this,” Ontario Red head coach Joe Butkevich said. “[This experience] has been phenomenal, from the host committee to the volunteers. It is a small-town community with a great feel; everyone wanted to put Dawson Creek on the map, and they did that this week.”

British Columbia takes down Alberta to win bronze

Earlier in the day, British Columbia earned its third bronze medal in the last four national championships, downing Alberta 3-1. After Chloe Primerano (North Vancouver, BC/RHA Kelowna, CSSHL) and Hannah Dods (Chilliwack, BC/Fraser Valley, BCEHL) scored for the hosts in the second period, Claire Carruthers (Crossfield, AB/Edmonton, AFHL) pulled Alberta within one on the power play 4:24 into the third. Danica Maynard (Osoyoos, BC/RHA Kelowna, CSSHL) added an insurance marker on the power play in the final five minutes to secure the bronze for B.C. on home ice.

“This has been really fun getting to bond with my new teammates, everyone has been so positive. The little things all added up; we worked together, bonded and came through today,” British Columbia captain Gracie Graham (Kelowna, BC/RHA Kelowna, CSSHL) said. “It was amazing to have all our fans out there watching us, you do not always get that experience. It was a great time.”

It is the fourth bronze medal for B.C. at the national championship and first since 2017.

Following the gold medal game, the tournament awards were announced:

Most valuable player: Sara Manness (La Salle, MB/Burlington, OWHA U22 Elite)
Top forward: Morgan Jackson (Courtenay, BC/Shawnigan Lake, CSSHL)
Top defence: Rosalie Breton (Saint-Bernard, QC/Limoilou, RSEQ)
Top goalie: Hannah Clark
Most sportsmanlike player: Mackenzie Alexander

For more information on Hockey Canada and the 2023 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along through social media on FacebookX and Instagram, and by using #U18Nationals.

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Jessie Olfert (left) and Jane Kish sit on the bench of Team Alberta's locker room, with team jerseys hanging in the stalls behind them.

Alberta coaches come back to Dawson Creek

Having competed as players at the 2012 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, Jane Kish and Jessie Olfert are returning to Dawson Creek—this time as coaches with Team Alberta

Shannon Coulter
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November 05, 2023

Jessie Olfert and Jane Kish can still remember the roar of the crowd when they stepped on the ice at the Ovintiv Events Centre. Hundreds of students cheering on British Columbia and Saskatchewan as the teams competed at the 2012 National Women’s Under-18 Championship.

“It’s the first time as a player that you’re experiencing a loud barn,” Olfert says. “Dawson Creek definitely showed up to fill the barn and cheer us on, which was pretty amazing.”

Eleven years later, Olfert and Kish are returning to the Peace Region—this time as members of the Alberta coaching staff. Although more than a decade has passed, the memories are still vivid for both ladies.

“I’m from Weyburn, Saskatchewan, originally, and then Dawson Creek had about around the same population,” Kish says. “I remember getting there and I was like, ‘This feels like a nice, close-knit community.’”

The quality of the hockey and the ability to connect with players from other provinces also stand out in their memories.

“It was the fastest hockey that I had played up to that point,” Olfert says. “I remember thinking, ‘This is so much fun. I want to find more ways that I can continue to be involved with this type of high-level game.’”

“The connections that I built and the experience that I had—it was very neat to be a part of,” Kish adds.

Action shots of Jessie Olfert (left) and Jane Kish (right) during the 2012 U18 Nationals

With that passion for high-level intensity hockey ignited in Dawson Creek, both Kish and Olfert pursued playing the game in university. Kish finished her career at the University of Regina as the all-time leader in wins (38) and shutouts (15). Olfert played at the University of Alberta for three years before she hung up her skates.

“I called a past coach of mine, who was a really big mentor in my life, and I asked her, ‘After you leave your sport, what do you do with your life?’ And she said, ‘You simply find another way to get involved in it.’”

For both Kish and Olfert, coaching was an excellent way to stay connected to the game they love in a new capacity. When Olfert made the decision not to play a fourth year with the Pandas, her coach Howie Draper helped her find her first coaching position to get her foot in the door.

After completing a kinesiology and education degree, Kish was thinking about balancing substitute teaching and goalie training after university when she was presented with the perfect job opportunity at the South Alberta Hockey Academy in Medicine Hat.

“It was the best of both worlds,” she says. “It’s allowed me to be an assistant coach and have my goalie stuff, but also doing all the fun teaching stuff in school.”

For Kish and Olfert, becoming a coach has been one of the best things that has helped the transition into life after playing high-level hockey.

“Ending the playing career, sometimes an athlete might get lost a little bit,” Olfert says. “It feels like a part of your life has kind of ended, which it has. So, harnessing all that energy into something else, that can be incredibly rewarding.”

“I love it because I’m learning every day,” Kish adds. “Seeing the sport in this light has been very cool for me because I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, when I was a player, I didn’t even think about this.’ But now I’m seeing all these different things and it’s a different viewpoint. That has been very exciting for me.”

Jessie Olfert (left) and Jane Kish (right) in their 2012 headshots from the U18 Nationals

Despite competing against each other at U18 Nationals and in U SPORTS, Kish and Olfert didn’t officially meet until both were brought on to Alberta’s coaching staff ahead of the 2023 tournament. With the experience playing in the tournament themselves, it provides a unique perspective for coaching Alberta’s athletes.

“I remember going in there and being very nervous,” Kish says about playing in the tournament. “You want to do exceptionally well because you have all these expectations riding on you.”

“Sometimes I find your athletes forget that you had a childhood, that you grew up as well and you’ve been through some of these things,” Olfert adds. “They can look to you and be like, ‘What do we do here?’ And you actually have an answer because you know where their feet are, you know what’s going through their heads.”

The return to Dawson Creek for Kish and Olfert is full of nostalgia. It’s a familiar city, a familiar rink and a familiar schedule for what is in store for each team during the week. As two of 1,578 girls who have competed in this tournament since 2001, Kish and Olfert hope Team Alberta can embrace this opportunity and be truly present in this moment.

“This tournament is a reminder of what all these girls have gone through to get here. Now, they get to enjoy it and experience it just like Jessie and I did 11 years ago,” Kish says.

“Life has changed a lot in the last 11 years, but it’s also been a lot of really good changes and a lot of personal growth,” Olfert says. “This is really cool to have a full circle moment of returning back to Dawson Creek and getting to relive it, but in a very different way.”

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Hockey Canada confirms hosts for seven events

Hockey Canada confirms hosts for seven events

National and international tournaments will be hosted across five provinces in the 2023-24 season

NR.050.23
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July 27, 2023

CALGARY, AB – Hockey Canada has confirmed the dates and host communities for seven events taking place during the 2023-24 season, including the return of the National Women’s Under-18 Championship.

“Today is an exciting day for Hockey Canada as we announce seven events that play a critical role in the development of men’s, women’s and para hockey athletes, coaches and staff,” said Pat McLaughlin, chief operating officer of Hockey Canada. “We hope that hosting these tournaments will help introduce new fans to the game, create lifelong memories for Canadians and have a positive impact in each community long after the medals have been handed out.”

The 2023 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will be played Nov. 2-11 in Charlottetown and Summerside, PE, marking the first time in the tournament’s 37-year history that it will be hosted in the province.

Featuring some of the best young women’s hockey players in Canada, the 2023 National Women’s Under-18 Championship will run Nov. 5-11 in Dawson Creek, BC, bringing the event back to the Peace Region for the first time since 2012.

Canada’s National Para Hockey Team will compete for gold with three other countries at the 2023 Para Hockey Cup, which will be held Dec. 3-9 in Quispamsis, NB, marking the fourth Hockey Canada event that Quispamsis has hosted.

Top Canadian and international players will be showcased at the 2023 World Junior A Hockey Challenge from Dec. 10-17 in Truro, NS, as the tournament returns to Atlantic Canada for the fourth time and to Truro for the second time.

In the spring, Canada’s Women’s U18 National Club Championship will be decided at the Esso Cup in Vernon, BC from April 21-27, while the Men’s U18 National Club Championship will be played April 22-28 in Membertou, NS.

The best Junior A teams in Canada will take to the ice at the 2024 Centennial Cup in Oakville, ON, with the Oakville Blades hosting the national championship from May 9-19.

“We are thrilled to share the list of communities that will host Hockey Canada events during the 2023-24 season,” said Dean McIntosh, vice-president of strategic partnerships and community impact. “The support we have received from host committees has been outstanding and we are confident that participants, volunteers, partners and fans will have fantastic experiences at each tournament.”

Ticket information for all seven events can be found here. Tournament schedules will be announced at a later date. 

For more information on Hockey Canada, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along through social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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2022 host communities announced

Hockey Canada announces hosts for six events

Six tournaments will be hosted across six provinces between November 2022 and May 2023

NR.021.22
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May 11, 2022

CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada has announced the dates and host communities for six events taking place during the 2022-23 season, including the return of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup and World Junior A Challenge for the first time since 2019.

The communities of Langley and Delta, B.C., will host the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge from Nov. 5-12, bringing some of the top young players in the world to Metro Vancouver.

The 2022 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup will run from Nov. 27-Dec. 3 in Bridgewater, N.S., marking the first time that the event has been held in the Maritimes since 2016.

A showcase of Canadian and international Junior A talent, the 2022 World Junior A Challenge will take place in Cornwall, Ont., from Dec. 11-18.

Two of Hockey Canada’s national championships will return to their typical April schedule in 2023, with the puck dropping at the Esso Cup in Prince Albert, Sask., on April 23 and the TELUS Cup beginning April 24 in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.

The Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, will be hosted in Portage la Prairie, Man., in May 2023, bringing Canada’s National Junior A Championship to Manitoba for a fourth time.

“We are excited to announce the host communities for six events taking place in 2022-23, and we cannot wait to bring some of the top hockey events in the world to fans across Canada,” said Dean McIntosh, vice-president of events and properties for Hockey Canada. “Hosting events of this magnitude would not be possible without our incredible local partners, and we are very grateful for their support as we count down to puck drop.”

Tickets are available now for the 2022 World Junior A Challenge in Cornwall, Ont., at HockeyCanada.ca/Tickets, while on-sale dates for the remaining events will be announced at a later date.

For more information on Hockey Canada, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, become a Hockey Canada Insider, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Hockey Canada statement announcing fall event cancellations

NR.044.21
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September 27, 2021

CALGARY, Alta. – Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the difficult decision has been made to cancel the 2021 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, 2021 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup and 2021 World Junior A Challenge. The following is a statement on behalf of Hockey Canada from Tom Renney, chief executive officer, and Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer:

“Despite a strong desire to work with three great communities to host the top players at various levels across the country this season, the health and safety of all participants and the communities at large continues to be of the utmost importance to Hockey Canada. The ongoing pandemic, in addition to the vaccination status of some international teams, has left us with no other option. We believe the decision to cancel these fall events is the safest decision given the ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic at a local level, as well as the uncertainty around countries and regions being able to safely compete.

Hockey Canada is grateful for the continued support of local host committees and event partners, including B.C. Hockey, Hockey Eastern Ontario, Hockey Nova Scotia and the Canadian Junior Hockey League, as well as the communities of Bridgewater, N.S., Cornwall, Ont., and Dawson Creek, B.C., and all local and provincial funding partners. Our organization is appreciative of the commitment and support of all stakeholders to host these events and we look forward to showcasing our national events and all participants to fans next year.”

Hockey Canada will continue to work with event stakeholders to host the spring 2022 national championships and to continue to investigate opportunities to prepare Canadian athletes to represent Canada at the Olympic Winter Games, Paralympic Winter Games, IIHF world championships and other international events.

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Hockey Canada statement announcing Fall 2020 event rescheduling

HC Communications
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September 03, 2020

CALGARY, Alta. – Following the cancellation of the 2019-20 hockey season and all national championships in March, Hockey Canada has worked tirelessly with its host organizing committees for 2020 and beyond.

While a tremendous amount of work has gone into planning the fall 2020 events, the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created a position where there is no further option other than to cancel three events, instead planning for their return in 2021 to the following communities:

  • 2020 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, Nov. 2-8 in Dawson Creek, B.C.
  • 2020 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup, Dec. 6-12 in Bridgewater, N.S.
  • 2020 World Junior A Challenge, Dec. 13-20 in Cornwall, Ont.

The following statement is on behalf of Hockey Canada from Tom Renney, chief executive officer, and Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer:

“At various rates, provinces from coast-to-coast-to-coast have started moving ahead with their phased re-opening, but as it has been since the season was cancelled, Hockey Canada’s priority remains the health and safety of all participants and the general public. We believe the decision to cancel these three events is the safest decision given the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic at the local level, as well as the international implications associated with these events.

Hockey Canada is grateful for the continued support of our local host committees and event partners, including BC Hockey, Hockey Nova Scotia, Hockey Eastern Ontario, NHL Central Scouting, the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) and the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL). We appreciate the commitment and support of everyone involved and we look forward to showcasing some incredible hockey to fans next year.”

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Ontario Red wins gold medal at National Women’s Under-18 Championship

Saskatchewan makes history with silver medal finish

NR.080.19
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November 09, 2019

WINKLER, Man. – Ontario Red has continued its dynasty at the National Women’s Under-18 Championship, taking home its fifth-consecutive gold medal by defeating Saskatchewan 3-1 at Winkler Arena on Saturday.

It is the 12th time Ontario Red has stood atop the podium in 13 national championships, while Saskatchewan made history of its own by reaching the gold medal game for the first time ever.

After a scoreless first period, Grace Nelles (St. Ann’s, Ont.) struck for Ontario Red just before the five-minute mark of the second and Olivia Wallin (Oakville, Ont.) tipped in the game-winning goal late in the middle frame. Neena Brick (Regina, Sask.) made things interesting when she got Saskatchewan on the board just 29 seconds into the third period, but Sarah Campbell (Oakville, Ont.) added insurance into an empty net in the dying seconds to clinch gold.

“Our girls were really eager to be here. With this group that we had here, the girls wanted to get better every time we were together, whether that was a meeting, an off-ice activity, practice or a game, that was something we stuck to for the whole week,” said Ontario Red head coach Kori Cheverie. “They stuck to the game plan, and they bought in to what we were selling them. Our group has been resilient all week; we’ve had to overcome a few things, so it was a great way to finish the week.”

Arden Kliewer (Saskatoon, Sask.) made 32 saves in a terrific performance in the Saskatchewan net, while Kayle Osborne (Rideau Lakes, Ont.) stopped 17 of 18 to record the win for Ontario Red.

Quebec edges Ontario Blue in OT to win bronze

Emilie Lussier (Ste-Martine, Que.) provided the heroics in the bronze medal game, scoring in overtime to lift Quebec past Ontario Blue and onto the podium with a 2-1 win.

Quebec trailed by a goal heading to the third period, but drew even off stick of the Ann-Frédérik Naud (St-Félix-de-Valois, Que.) with just 3:41 to go.

“I knew they would come out and fight hard no matter what, and they came out every period determined,” Quebec head coach Pascal Dufresne said of his team. “We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but every one of them gave it their all, and I could not be more proud of the way they were able to come back today and finish out the tournament with a win.”

It is the ninth medal and second bronze for Quebec at the national championship.

For more information on Hockey Canada and the National Women’s Under-18 Championship, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow through social media on Facebook and Twitter.

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The masked history maker

Ève Gascon’s pathway through the game is echoing the road taken by her idol

Quinton Amundson
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November 07, 2019

When Ève Gascon first arrived at training camp to audition for the Phénix du Collège Esther-Blondin in the fall of 2018, the then-15-year-old was not expected to make any noise.

“She wasn’t in our plans,” admits Paulin Bordeleau, head coach of the Ligue de hockey midget AAA du Québec (LHMAAAQ) team. “We had a goaltender coming back from the year before, and I would say we had two other prospects that were ahead of her at the time.”

History was also working against the native of Terrebonne, Que. – no woman had ever served as a full-time goaltender in the Midget league.  

Gascon, who starred in net for the Basses-Laurentides Conquérants Bantam AAA squad from 2016-18, decided to make her historic bid for a spot in the Midget AAA ranks out of a desire to continue playing with her Conquérants teammates. She was attracted to the Phénix because her older brother Félix played for the organization during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. 

Ultimately, by exhibiting the same tenaciousness throughout camp as she does when she makes a seemingly impossible save – a signature aspect of her game – Gascon forced herself into the history books.

“I was proud of myself, but afterwards I realized I could not complete this accomplishment without my parents and brothers,” says Gascon. “I was proud of myself and thankful for them.”

She performed admirably in her rookie season with Esther-Blondin, posting a goals-against average of 4.14 and an .866 save percentage. Her sophomore campaign has thus far been more remarkable; she has cut the former figure down to 3.01 and elevated the latter to .905 as of the end of October. 

Bordeleau cites her great lateral movement, never-give-up approach and desire to be a good teammate as chief reasons for her success.  

By securing herself a place in history, Gascon has gained more than 2,000 followers on Instagram and numerous autograph requests. The 16-year-old treasures that she can count Charline Labonté as one of her biggest fans and as a mentor. 

“I am very happy to have her in my entourage,” says Gascon. “She is very helpful to me, whether it be advice on hockey or life. She has taught me how to always be in the present moment, and I am grateful for that.”

Thanks to mutual family friends, the three-time Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion has been in Gascon’s life for nearly five years. Their bond has steadily developed through consistent communication via phone calls and text messages, attending each other’s games and a few on-ice sessions together.

Labonté views Gascon as a kindred spirit; the long-time member of Canada’s National Women’s Team broke the mould herself by becoming just the second woman to tend goal in the QMJHL. Labonté appeared in 28 games for the Titan de Acadie-Bathurst eight years after Manon Rhéaume played a single game for the Draveurs de Trois-Rivières.

“She reminds me of myself at that age,” remarks Labonté. “I know exactly what she is going through. She is a quiet yet confident person. She doesn’t want the spotlight. She wants to play hockey and wants to go as far as she can, but the fact that she’s that good and is making history brings her all the media attention, and she has done very well with that. 

“Sometimes I can’t believe I am talking to a [16-year-old] kid. She is much more mature than that.”

Labonté says she and fellow Team Canada alumnus Kim St-Pierre – also a three-time Olympic gold medallist – have excitedly discussed Gascon’s potential with the Canada’s National Women’s Team.

“I don’t want to be biased, but I feel she is the next one,” declares Labonté. “She is taking it step by step, but everywhere she has been she has been successful.”

Gascon has already proven her mettle in elite tournaments; she backstopped Quebec to a silver medal at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta., with a tournament-leading .962 save percentage and 1.03 GAA, 20 years after Labonté won silver at the 1999 Games in Corner Brook, N.L. 

She followed up those heroics during the summer by leading Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team to a win in its series against the United States by making 26 saves for a 2-0 shutout win in the decisive third game. 

Gascon says strong self-belief has been instrumental in achieving success both on and off the ice. She advises younger players to do the same. 

“Don’t listen to the people who tell you [that] you can’t achieve your goals. Work hard and never give up.”

Would Gascon like to continue following Labonté’s trajectory by playing in the QMJHL? The youth says she would certainly be keen to attend a training camp if the opportunity is presented.

Abiding by the advice of her mentor, Gascon is keeping her focus on thriving in the present moment, which means trying to capture a gold medal with Quebec at the 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Championship.

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An aspirational sister act

Jordyn Bear and her twin sister Kyla are already role models to youth from the Ochapowace Cree First Nation

Quinton Amundson
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November 06, 2019

Jordyn Bear says she and her sister Kyla can produce some twin telepathy magic whenever they share the ice.

“We have great chemistry,” says Jordyn. “I always know where she is going to be on the ice. We are the exact same person in a different body.”

With that in mind, it isn’t surprising the two 16-year-olds share an aspiration to pursue a future with Canada’s National Women’s Team while serving as role models for Indigenous youth from coast to coast to coast.

Jordyn and Kyla, members of the Ochapowace Cree First Nation, are consistently sought out for advice about chasing after dreams by others on the reserve. The duo are already leaders in the community because their hockey skills have taken them to Penticton, B.C., to play for the Okanagan Hockey Academy.

“I want to make a path for them,” says Jordyn, a forward. “I want to show that even if you are an Indigenous kid that you can do everything, and nothing will stop you from doing it.”

Jordyn’s inclusion on the Saskatchewan roster for the 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Championship drives home that message even more. 

“[She] is such a strong forward,” beams Kyla, a defenceman. “She has a bright future ahead of her.”

Jordyn credits Kyla for playing an instrumental role in helping her get to this point.

“My sister pushes me to be a better person on and off the ice. She has made a huge impact in helping me become the person I am now.”

The on-ice feats accomplished by two sisters and their older brother Kirk, a 24-year-old who has spent time in the Western Hockey League with the Red Deer Rebels and Prince George Cougars, has generated buzz throughout Ochapowace. Kyla says the community sends energy towards the Bear family, too.

“The community on the reserve is so strong and supportive,” remarks Kyla. “I have never seen a stronger support group than the one we have with Ochapowace.”

In the past couple of years, Jordyn and Kyla have also connected with Ochapowace youth through visiting Kakisiwew School and coaching on-ice skills sessions. Some of the sessions allowed the sisters to work alongside their idol Brigette Lacquette, the first woman of Indigenous heritage to play for Canada’s National Women’s Team at the Olympic Winter Games.

Lacquette, who turns 27 on Sunday, has taken advantage of the increased exposure afforded to her after winning a silver medal at the 2018 Games by engaging with First Nations youth across Canada. She finds sharing her life story is the most powerful way she can inspire young girls and boys.

“I came from a small Métis community in Mallard, Manitoba. There were about 120 people there when I was growing up. There is nothing there. But I had a goal and a dream that I wanted to play on the team one day, and that is what I set out to do.”

Lacquette, who marvels at the speed with which the Bear sisters play the game, is proud that the two of them are devoted to becoming great role models.

“I love it, and I support them 100 per cent with that.”

Jordyn and Kyla are grateful Lacquette is only a phone call or text message away to support them with their desire to become better role models and hockey players.

The two are also thankful to have each other in Penticton as they continue their push to follow in Lacquette’s footsteps.

But Jordyn has business to take care of in Morden and Winkler first.

View More

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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