A Brantford Midget AA hockey team brought home Canadian gold after winning the 2016 Esso Cup. The tournament, hosted in Weyburn, Saskatchewan drew teams from across Canada but it was the Brantford Ice Cats that came home as Esso Cup Midget AA Canadian female hockey champions.
Kim Long, dedicated hockey parent and mother of team member Katrina Mitton (pictured above with team mates Chennelle, Avery & Nicole) says that the team was supported by a spirited entourage of parents that flew to Saskatchewan to watch their daughters compete.
“We were a small group among the 1200 people in the stands to watch the final game but we made up for it with cowbells, airhorns and enthusiasm. After 7 games in 7 days, the girls also earned fan favourite status and the Go Ice Cats signs were inspiring.”
The Brantford Ice Cats beat out Quebec’s Express du Richelieu in a 10-3 victory at the end of the week long tournament. Coached by Garth Rickwood, Greg Rickwood, Jim Kettlewell and Kahla Durrant, the local team beat out six experienced and highly regarded Canadian Midget AA hockey teams on their path to victory.
“The gloves flew in the air and they piled on top of each other. There were all kinds of high fives, hugs and tears of joy!”
Long attributes the win to the closeness and commitment of the team.
“The girls have developed a close bond over the past year and they’re all very dedicated. During the 7 days in Saskatchewan they would go to the rink, watch other games, spend time together listening to music, singing and braiding hair and then it was off to bed. Essentially it was eat, sleep, hockey, repeat”
The Brantford Ice Cats qualified for the Esso Cup Midget AA tournament after winning at the Ontario Provincials earlier in the month.
“There are 85 midget AA teams in Canada but we had to beat 24 teams at the crowded Ontario Provincials before we were invited to Weyburn. It’s been an outstanding season for our girls.”
The final game win over the popular Québec team was the highlight to an incredible season that will see many of the players moving on. Eight Brantford Ice Cats will be junior players in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League next year while others are heading off to university.
“The girls have acquired many life-long skills that can apply to their future endeavours. It’s a lot of commitment but it’s worth it when you see them work as a team to build confidence and leadership.”
The 2016 Esso Cup champions include Katrina Mitton, Chenelle Caron-Godon, Avery Kettlewell, Nicole Kelly, Paige Cohoon, Emily Rickwood, Brooklyn Gemmill, Lauren Martin, Taylor Trussler, Paige Rynne, Avery Griffin, Kayla Bailey, Joelle Boissonneault, Emma Verbruggen, Makenna Ryder and Jillian Tsandelis. The team’s Manager was Stuart Bailey.
As a parent that has supported two children through rep hockey, Long knows the importance of sponsorship and community support.
“It cost a lot for any high level sport and so it goes a long way to have the support of community focused organizations like Millards.”
Mike Terdik, CPA, CA, LPA and Partner from Millards Chartered Professional Accountants was thrilled to learn of the team’s spectacular achievement.
“Organized sport is a powerful catalysis for instilling values and building character. To know that these young ladies have gained valuable life-skills is rewarding but to hear that they have won the 2016 Esso Cup is icing on the cake. Congratulations to the coaches, managers, parents, volunteers and players that worked together to earn the title of the number one Midget AA female hockey team in Canada.”