2022  fraser  valley  rush pacific champs 960

Road to the 2022 Esso Cup: Fraser Valley Rush

The Pacific Region champions hope a strong culture on and off the ice will lead to success at the Esso Cup

Shannon Coulter
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May 2, 2022
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If you spend time with the Fraser Valley Rush, you’ll hear the team repeat several phrases. “One to two, A to B,” represents where the team wants to be and how they will get there; “40 for 40” represents the importance of putting effort into every action on the ice, like backchecking.

However, there is one phrase that fully represents the team at its core: “Other teams are here to beat us, we’re just here to be us.” As head coach Tony Lindsay describes it, the Rush want to focus on being who they are as a team and the things they excel at in every game.

“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.”

That culture has guided the team to a lot of success this season, with the Rush losing three games in league play on their way to becoming B.C. Elite Hockey League (BCEHL) champions. They are also the first team from British Columbia to ever defeat the Alberta champions to win their way to the Esso Cup as Pacific champions.

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. With the new additions, it provided Lindsay with the opportunity to establish a team culture that stressed the importance of being a good teammate early in the season.

“Everybody’s contribution matters, even though it’s different,” he says. “Everybody has to make a difference when they get on the ice. And the players have bought into that.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the number of games played last season, the Rush made the decision to front-end load the first six weeks of their schedule to kickstart the season and help players get recruitment exposure. At the final tournament of the six-week stretch, the Rush faced adversity and went 1-3 at the Chinook Classic in Calgary.

But the team took time to regroup and learn from the experience. Moving forward, they were stronger as a team and it showed on the ice—at the team’s next tournament, the USA-Canada Cup, the Rush went undefeated.

“That was the weekend I thought, ‘You know what, we got it,’” Lindsay explains. “The girls learned how to respond to [adversity].”

That experience paid off when it was time for the playoffs. In the BCEHL championship series, the Rush gave up a third-period lead and dropped Game 1 to the Northern Capitals before rebounding to win the final two games. At the Pacific Regional, the Edmonton Pandas pushed the Rush to be at their best with two close back-and-forth games, including an overtime victory for Fraser Valley in Game 1 of the best-of-three series.

“Even when we fall behind, even when we faced adversity, the girls responded well to that,” he says.

Overall, the Rush have cultivated an environment where everyone feels the have a role, and no player’s role is bigger than another player. That’s evident in how much the team loves being together at the rink—when general manager Alain Wozney shows up to the rink 90 minutes before puck drop, he’ll often see members of the team waiting to get into the dressing room.

“[It’s] to the point that the rink is saying they’re coming too early,” Wozney says. “That goes to show that they really love being together and love coming to the rink and being a part of something special.”

HOW THEY GOT TO OKOTOKS

B.C. Elite Hockey League
Semifinal: defeated Thompson-Okanagan Lakers 2-0 (7-1, 4-1)
BCEHL championship: defeated Northern Capitals 2-1 (3-4, 3-2, 5-1)

Pacific Regional
Championship: defeated Edmonton Pandas 2-0 (4-3 OT, 3-2)

REGULAR SEASON

Record (W-L-T): 28-3-1 (1st in BCEHL)
Goals for: 140 (1st in BCEHL)
Goals against: 43 (1st in BCEHL)
Longest winning streak: 10 (Oct. 1 – Nov. 14)
Top 3 scorers:
- Aynsley D’Ottavio - 11G 44A 55P (1st in BCEHL)
- Vienna Rubin – 21G 26A 47P (2nd in BCEHL)
- Leah Barnard – 10G 26A 36P (6th in BCEHL)

PLAYOFFS

Record: 6-1
Goals for: 29
Goals against: 14
Top 3 scorers:
- Anna Diane McKee – 4G 6A 10P
- Leah Barnard – 5G 4A 9P
- Gillian Lapierre - 4G 4A 8P

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

2013 – Fraser Valley Phantom | fifth place | 1-4 | 7GF 16GA
2014 – Fraser Valley Phantom | fifth place | 1-4 | 12GF 15GA

PLAYERS TO WATCH

LEAH BARNARD
unbelievable in faceoffs … responsible defensively … dangerous offensively ... dependable and consistent

AYNSLEY D’OTTAVIO
creative playmaker ... unique vision on the ice ... excellent passer … makes her teammates better

VIENNA RUBIN
strong skater … goes hard to the net … impressive one-timer … clutch goal-scorer in big moments

UNIVERSITY COMMITMENTS

Megan Breum – Mount Allison University
Aynsley D’Ottavio – Quinnipiac University
Jade Lore – University of Connecticut

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

emadziya@hockeycanada.ca 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

ssharkey@hockeycanada.ca

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

jknight@hockeycanada.ca

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