By Laura Lennie, News Staff
The Stoney Creek Girls Hockey Association has begun its celebration for landing Ontario’s first national female midget championship.
The association, in partnership with the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association and Hockey Canada, held a press conference to officially start its countdown to hosting the 2014 Esso Cup last Thursday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Elementary School.
The conference featured addresses by OWHA president Fran Rider, Canadian women’s hockey legends Cathy Phillips and Geraldine Heaney, as well as Stoney Creek councillor Maria Pearson. Cup hosts, the Stoney Creek Midget AA Sabres, also got a chance to showcase their skills, as they teamed up with Phillips and Heaney and took on students and teachers in a friendly, 20-minute floor hockey game.
The 2014 Esso Cup will take place April 20 to April 26 at the Gateway Ice Centre. The Sabres will face off against five regional champions from the Atlantic, Ontario, Pacific, Quebec and West divisions in a five-day preliminary round, followed by semifinals and medal games. The gold medal game will air on TSN.
“Everyone in the SCGHA is very happy we are hosting the cup,” association representative and cup committee chair Glenn Boles said. “The Sabres players are really pumped to be able to participate in the event.”
The SCGHA landed the province’s first national female midget championship in 2012.
The association sent a bid proposal to the OWHA for the 2014 Esso Cup last spring.
The OWHA accepted the bid and forwarded it to Hockey Canada.
Hockey Canada accepted the proposal during its annual general meeting last May.
The SCGHA partnered with Tourism Hamilton to make the bid. The city contributed $20,000 to assist in the application.
The association had made a bid to host the 2013 Esso Cup, but lost.
One of the reasons the SCGHA’s bid lost was the games were going to be played at Chedoke Arena, which seats 900 people. Hockey Canada requires arenas to hold at least 1,500 people for their tournaments.
“Hockey Canada (urged us) to try again,” Boles said. “We felt with the new Gateway Ice Centre coming on board and with its seating capacity, along with the cooperation of Gateway’s owners, we would have a good chance of being accepted this time around.”
The inaugural Esso Cup was held in 2009 in Calgary, Alta.
The event gives female midget teams from across the country the opportunity to complete for a national championship, much like the top male midget teams compete annually for the Telus Cup.