A hockey team loaded with Surrey-area players will battle for a women’s U18 national championship starting today (Monday, May 16).
Fraser Valley Rush are Pacific region reps at the Hockey Canada-hosted Esso Cup in Okotoks, Alta.
In a week-long tournament involving six teams, the Langley-based Rush are up against Prince Albert Bears (host), Durham West Lightning (Ontario), Northern Selects (Atlantic), Notre Dame Hounds (West) and Remparts du Richelieu (Quebec).
Fraser Valley gets going with a late-afternoon game against the Quebec reps, followed Tuesday by a battle with Notre Dame and Wednesday versus Prince Albert. The full schedule for the round-robin tourney is posted to HockeyCanada.ca, and games are livestreamed on hockeycanada.ca/essocup.
Making History! First time a male and female team have represented BC at a National Championship in the same year! 💙⚒💛— Fraser Valley RUSH Female U18AAA (@RushFMAAA) May 15, 2022
Good Luck Chiefs in the Telus Cup! #EssoCup2022 #TelusCup2022 @BCHockey_Source @BCEHL @HockeyCanada pic.twitter.com/egn05AZFWi
It’s been a record-setting season for the Rush, who in April won the Pacific region banner with a pair of close victories over the visiting Edmonton Pandas.
Champs of the BC Elite Hockey League, the Rush is a “zone” team that draws players from Whistler to Hope. The squad includes 10 former Surrey Falcons players, including Sarah Leroux, Julia Clauzel, Kayla White, Nahvin Bal, Hayley Lee, Katie Leroux, Clara Juca, Anna McKee, MacKenzie Galick and Cassandra Kelher.
Fraser Valley had a significant number of 17-year-old players on its team last year. Coming into the 2021-22 season, the Rush were a very young team with 13 new players, including several 14-year-olds.
“Other teams are here to beat us, we’re just here to be us,” head coach Tony Lindsay says in a team profile on Hockey Canada’s website.
“We just got to focus on being the best version of ourselves,” Lindsay says. “Our goal is to make sure that we have more fun than the other team. We use this slogan before every game: party on the bench. It’s got to be a party on the bench. We got to celebrate every success, every blocked shot, every successful back-check.”
Rush player to watch at the Esso Cup include Leah Barnard, Aynsley D’Ottavio and Vienna Rubin. The team’s university commits include Megan Breum (Mount Allison University), D’Ottavio (Quinnipiac University) and Jade Lore (University of Connecticut).
This is the third Esso Cup appearance for the Rush, formerly Fraser Valley Phantom. The team served as host when the 2013 tournament was played in Burnaby, and was among two Pacific reps a year later. Fraser Valley missed out on the semifinals in both years.
This week Okotoks also hosts the TELUS Cup, for men’s U18 club teams from across Canada, including the Pacific zone’s Vancouver Northeast Chiefs.
The two tournaments conclude Sunday, May 22, with the finals broadcast nationally on TSN and RDS, first with the Esso Cup at 11 a.m. Pacific time, followed by the TELUS Cup championship game at 3 p.m.