Durham West Lightning win Esso Cup
Ontario wins Canada’s National Women’s U18 Club Championship for fourth time
OKOTOKS, Alta. – The Durham West Lightning has won the Esso Cup, claiming Canada’s National Women’s U18 Club Championship on the back of a 27-save performance from Sophie Helfenstein (Ajax, Ont.) in a 4-1 win over the Fraser Valley Rush on Sunday at Pason Centennial Arena.
It’s the first national title for the Lightning, who finished third at the 2017 Esso Cup in Morden, Man. The win also marks the fourth championship for the Ontario Region – the Thunder Bay Queens won in 2010, Sudbury Lady Wolves in 2015 and Brantford Ice Boltz in 2016.
“I’m so proud of these girls,” Durham head coach Patrick Teggart said after the game. “They have worked so hard to get here, and to be rewarded is a great feeling. My joy lies with them; they deserve this. We talked all week about how important it was to stay together and win as a team and that is exactly what we did tonight.” The Lightning opened the scoring late in the first period when Courtney Poelman (Oshawa, Ont.) fired a seeing-eye shot through a screen. For Poelman, it was an opportune time to record her first point of the Esso Cup.
After an early penalty kill, the Lightning added a second-period marker from Zoe Ziotas (Markham, Ont.) to open a two-goal lead at the second intermission.
“This feels like a dream,” said Lightning captain Jessica Pellerin (Bowmanville, Ont.).“These girls have had such positive energy all week both in the room and on the ice. This is one of the greatest experiences of my life and to share it with this group, it’s a special feeling.”
Ella Inglis (Pickering, Ont.) put the game on ice with a wicked wrist shot off the post and in midway through the third period before Sadie Hotles (Markham, Ont.) found the empty net with 2:24 left.
The Rush broke Helfenstein’s shutout bid in the third period when Aynsley D’Ottavio (Rosedale, B.C.) found a loose puck for her third goal of the tournament. Despite the loss, Fraser Valley achieved the best finish ever by a B.C. team at the national championship.
Full game stats are available at HockeyCanada.ca/EssoCup.
Esso Cup Tournament Awards:
Most Valuable Player – Sadie Hotles (Durham West Lightning)
Top Forward – Vienna Rubin (Fraser Valley Rush)
Top Defence – Abigayle Poitras (Durham West Lightning)
Top Goaltender – Eva Fillipova (Notre Dame Hounds)
Most Sportsmanlike Player – Sophia Zuck (Prince Albert Bears)
Prince Albert, Sask., and the Prince Albert Bears of the Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League will play host to the 13th edition of Canada’s National Women’s U18 Club Championship in April 2023.
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