2023  esso  cup  bracket  v11  apr17

Super six set for Prince Albert

It’s down to the Bears, Étoiles, Rebels, Rush, Selects and Sabres to compete for Canada’s Women’s U18 National Club Championship

Shannon Coulter
April 17, 2023

And then there were six.

The Road to the Esso Cup is complete, as the Stoney Creek Sabres claimed the final spot with a 3-0 victory over North York Storm at the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association provincials on Sunday.

The Sabres will join the Prince Albert Bears (Host), Northern Selects (Atlantic), Fraser Valley Rush (Pacific), Étoiles de Laurentides-Lanaudière (Quebec) and Regina Rebels (West) at Canada’s Women’s U18 National Club Championship, which begins April 23 in Prince Albert, Sask.

Here’s a quick look at all six teams competing for a national title.

Host – Prince Albert Bears

After serving as remote hosts last year in Okotoks, Alta., the Bears are excited to finally welcome Canada’s best to Art Hauser Arena. Prince Albert had ups and downs in the Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League this season, finishing with a 9-18-3 record before dropping its quarterfinal playoff series against the Notre Dame Hounds 2-1.

This year marks the Bears’ third appearance at the Esso Cup; they have previously finished fifth twice, going 2-3 in the preliminary round last year in Okotoks and in 2017 in Morden, Man., as West Region champions.

Atlantic Region – Northern Selects

It was another strong season for the Selects, losing just one of 24 games in the Maritime Major Female Hockey League (MMFHL) before defeating the Cape Breton Lynx 3-1 and sweeping the Halifax Western Capitals to claim the MMFHL title. That momentum carried into the Atlantic Regional, where the Selects had a perfect 4-0 preliminary round before shutting out the Western Flames to book their tickets to Prince Albert.

This marks the third trip to the Esso Cup in four years for Northern. Last year, it went 2-3 in the preliminary round before being blanked 4-0 by the eventual national champion Durham West Lightning in the semifinals.

Ontario Region – Stoney Creek Sabres

The Sabres boast an offensively strong team, finishing second in the OWHA regular-season standings with a +90-goal differential. That success carried over into the OWHA provincials, where Stoney Creek went undefeated in Pool A against the Nepean Wildcats, Rideau St. Lawrence Thunder and Waterloo Ravens. It shut out the Ottawa Senators and Peterborough Ice Kats 4-0 in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, before defeating the Storm to represent Ontario at the Esso Cup.

Stoney Creek last competed for a national title in 2019, coming away with bronze with a 3-2 shootout win over the Saskatoon Stars. The Sabres also hosted the Esso Cup in 2014, finishing in fourth place after a 3-2 loss to the Sudbury Lady Wolves for bronze.

Pacific Region – Fraser Valley Rush

There was no one close to the Rush in the British Columbia Elite Hockey League (BCEHL) this season; the Rush posted a 30-2 regular season record with an impressive 171-48 goal differential. That dominance continued in the playoffs, with Fraser Valley sweeping the Greater Vancouver Comets and Thompson-Okanagan Lakers while only allowing one goal to win the BCEHL title, then sweeping the Red Deer Chiefs to become back-to-back Pacific champions.

It will be the fourth Esso Cup appearance for the Rush. After finishing with a 3-2 preliminary record in Okotoks, Fraser Valley took home silver, falling 4-1 to Durham West.

Quebec Region – Étoiles de Laurentides-Lanaudière

The Étoiles had a strong second half of their season, winning or tying every game since Dec. 11 to finish second in the Ligue de hockey d’excellence du Québec. However, it was an uphill battle at the Coupe Chevrolet provincials, with the Étoiles dropping their first two games in the preliminary round. The team found its groove in the knockout round, beating Laval-Montréal, Québec (in overtime) and Outaouais to solidify its spot in the Esso Cup.

It'll be the second Esso Cup appearance for Laurentides-Lanaudière. Before amalgamating into the Étoiles, the Pionnières de Lanaudière represented Quebec in 2018 and won bronze.

West Region – Regina Rebels

Regina had a stand-out regular season, complete with a 10-game win streak to finish atop the Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League. The Rebels defeated the Notre Dame Hounds 2-1 in the semifinals, and after dropping the first game of the final to the Saskatoon Stars, won twice in a row to advance to the West Regional. It was an intense series against the Winnipeg Ice, but the Rebels came away with a pair of overtime wins to return to the national stage.

The Rebels have two previous Esso Cup appearances, with the last being a fourth-place finish in 2013. Regina hosted the second-ever championship in 2010, earning a 3-2 record in the preliminary round and finishing fourth.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

2023 U18 Nationals: Saturday, November 11 (Medal Games)
Ontario Red won a 13th U18 Nationals gold in Dawson Creek
2023 U18 Nationals: Friday, November 10 (Semifinals & Placement)
Ontario Red and Quebec will play for U18 Nationals gold in Dawson Creek.
2023 U18 Nationals: Thursday, November 9 (Quarterfinals)
Alberta, B.C., Ontario Red and Quebec advanced to the semifinals in Dawson Creek.
2023 U18 Nationals: Tuesday, November 7 (Preliminary)
Ontario Red and Quebec finish the preliminary round undefeated in Dawson Creek.