2022 esso cup northern selects 960

Road to the 2022 Esso Cup: Northern Selects

Undefeated since mid-October, the Atlantic Region champions look to carry that momentum into the Esso Cup

Shannon Coulter
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May 12, 2022
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The bonds between teammates on the Northern Selects goes much deeper than just the beginning of this season.

With the team based out of the small community of Pictou, N.S., everyone knows everyone. In fact, one third of the team has been playing together since they were about eight years old. Over half the Selects have played spring hockey together since U11.

The familiarity has helped to foster a selfless team environment where everyone is consistently looking to improve their game.

“We have leadership, and we obviously have some very elite players,” says head coach Craig Clarke. “They push each other and challenge each other very hard at practices. But they celebrate each other’s successes. We don’t have any of those ‘me, me, me’ people.”

On the ice, look for Northern to play a very structured and responsible game at the Esso Cup.

“I think our strength would be defence,” Clarke says. “We did put a lot of pucks in the net at Atlantics, but if you look at our overall statistics for the year, it’s more about defensive structure and being responsible. That would be something that we take, as a group, a lot of pride in.”

That defensive structure has led to great success. The Selects only dropped two games this season and have not lost since Oct. 17, finishing the Maritime Major Female Hockey League season on a 17-game win streak. They swept the Halifax Western Capitals in the Nova Scotia semifinals and faced the East Hants Penguins for the provincial championship.

“We were playing a very good team that has played us hard all year, and we had a bit of a blip [in Game 2],” Clarke explains. “We went from being up 2-0 to down 5-2 in the span of eight minutes. We came all the way back in the third period and won 6-5. That was a belief moment. We can come from behind, we can hold a lead, we can come back. We can do this.”

The momentum continued as the Selects swept the Penguins to win their fourth provincial title. At the Atlantic Regional, they had an incredible offensive performance, scoring 38 goals—and only allowing three—on their way to the regional title and a spot in Okotoks.

“They’re excited,” Clarke says of his team qualifying for the Esso Cup. “It was earned over almost, for some of them, for three years. A lot of hard work.”

Earning a spot at Canada’s National Women’s U18 Club Championship does not mean the job is done for the Selects, however. The team is eager to make an impact in its second Esso Cup appearance.

“You cannot go to the Esso Cup being satisfied to just go to the Esso Cup,” he says. “You’re there to compete. And regardless of what the result is game from game, you go and you empty it.”

The Selects are also drawing inspiration from the Cape Breton West Islanders for what Nova Scotian teams can accomplish at national championships. In 2017, the Islanders became the first Atlantic team to win the TELUS Cup, Canada’s National Men’s U18 Club Championship. Three players on the Selects—Bree MacPherson, Mairead MacPherson and Sara Stewart—had brothers that played on that Cape Breton West team.

“I mean, it was like a Disney story. A little place smaller than us and they went to the TELUS Cup and they won the thing,” Clarke says. “And it’s not that you have expectations for that. You just have expectations that every game you play, you are going to absolutely do everything you can for your teammates to compete all the way through it. Then, whatever the result is, you can hold your head high.”

HOW THEY GOT TO OKOTOKS

Maritime Major Female Hockey League
Nova Scotia semifinal: defeated Halifax Western Capitals 3-0 (3-0, 3-1, 3-1)
Nova Scotia final: defeated East Hants Penguins 3-0 (2-0, 6-5, 6-0)

Atlantic Regional
Preliminary round: 4-0-0 – first place (defeated Eastern Icebreakers 10-1, defeated Western Wind 9-1, defeated EDZA West Reds 9-0, defeated Central Storm 8-0)
Championship: defeated EDZA West Reds 2-1

REGULAR SEASON

Record (W-L-T): 22-2-0 (1st in MMFHL)
Goals for: 78 (1st in MMFHL)
Goals against: 19 (1st in MMFHL)
Longest winning streak: 17 (Oct. 17-March 5)
Top 3 scorers:
- Sara Stewart – 17G 11A 28P (1st in MMFHL)
- Brooke Thomson – 15G 7A 22P (3rd in MMFHL)
- Jaylen Langille – 6G 11A 17P (7th in MMFHL)

PLAYOFFS

Record: 11-0
Goals for: 61
Goals against: 10
Top 3 scorers:
- Sara Stewart – 17G 15A 32P
- Brooke Thomson – 13G 11A 24P
- Olivia Marks – 5G 14A 19P

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

2018 – Northern Selects | fifth place | 1-4 | 12GF 19GA

PLAYERS TO WATCH

GABBY ARSENAULT
undefeated in regular season … very calm in net … doesn’t get rattled easily … uses her size to her advantage

BREE MACPHERSON
excellent hockey IQ … incredibly fast … defenceman with great size and strength … plays a lot of minutes

SARA STEWART
captain clutch … incredibly dynamic ... great leadership … responsible on both ends of the ice

UNIVERSITY COMMITMENTS

Megan Smith – St. Francis Xavier University
Sara Stewart – Colgate University

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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Schedule