It's Almost Time: Esso Cup '23 Field Set
The road to the Hockey Canada national club championship tournaments is well underway as teams of young men and women around the country have been competing since March in league and provincial tournaments for the right to advance to the regional championships that feed the national events. The U18 national championship for women is called the Esso Cup, while on the men’s side the tournament is now called the U18 Club National Championship.
The Esso Cup is being hosted in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, by the Prince Albert Bears April 23-29 at the Art Hauser Centre. The host Bears are being joined by five regional champions from all over Canada.
The U18 Men's Club National Championship, formerly known as the Telus Cup, will be hosted in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, at Stade L.P. Gaucher April 24-30. The tournament returns to Quebec for the first time since 2015, with the host team Gaulois de Saint-Hyacinthe also being joined by five regional champions in competing for the national title.
Esso Cup Women’s U18 National Club Championship Schedule
U18 Men’s National Club Championship Schedule
The schedules have been set for months, and now we can congrtulate the five teams that will be joining the Bears for the Esso Cup in Prince Albert:
2023 Esso Cup National Championship Field (Canada Rankings as of April 12)
Host - #47 Prince Albert Bears
Atlantic Region - #10 Northern Selects (Nova Scotia)
Ontario - #2 Stoney Creek Sabres
Quebec - #25 Laurentides-Lanaudiere Stars
Pacific Region - #1 Fraser Valley Rush (British Colubmia)
West Region - #3 Regina Rebels (Saskatchewan)
This document will continue to be updated as Canadian U18 women’s team progress until the champions are crowned in late April. Join us on their journey and come back to check for regular updates.
The Durham West Lightning from Ontario won the 2022 ESSO Cup.
CLICK HERE to find out everything you'd ever want to know about the 2022 tournament.
The Road to the Esso Cup 2023
League and provincial playoffs started in March across Canada, and the Esso Cup begins April 23. The road to a national championship is long and demanding, full of twists, turns, upsets and fantastic finishes.
Five regional champions join the host Prince Albert Bears for the late-April tournament in Saskatchewan. Those champs epresent Quebec, Ontario, the Atlantic Region, the Pacific Region and the West Region.
The Pacific Region consists of six teams from the Alberta Female Hockey League and the five teams that compete in the British Columbia Elite Hockey League. Those two league champions competed for the Pacific championship.
West Region champions come from either the Manitoba Female Hockey League or the Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League. The champions of the eight-team MFHL and seven-team SFU18AAAHL battled it out for the right to represent their region in Prince Albert.
The eight Hockey Quebec U18 teams competed for the right to represent their province at Nationals as the champions of the Ligue de Hockey D’Excellence du Quebec (LHEQ), while the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association, an organization with more than 50 members, sends its overall U18 champion to the Esso Cup as the Ontario representative.
Over in the Atlantic District, the U18 champions of four-team Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador faced off against the Maritime Major Female Hockey League champs.
The opening game of the ESSO Cup is set for Sunday, April 23, with the West-champion and third-ranked Reginal Rebels taking on the No. 5 Laurentides-Lanaudiere Stars in a 2 p.m. Eastern start at the Art Hauser Centre.
ESSO Cup National Championship Bracket and Info
The No. 10 Red Deer Chiefs hosted the No. 1 Fraser Valley Rush for the Pacific Region Championship April 7-8.
The Fraser Valley Rush returned to the regional series for the second year in a row hoping for a gold-medal run at the Esso Cup in Prince Albert after coming up one win short a year ago. Following a strong regular season, the Rush swept its way to the BCHEL title and allowed only one goal in four games in the process.
Coming from the AFHL, the Red Deer Chiefs booked their ticket to the regionals with an excellent performance in the provincial tournament. Although they dropped their preliminary-round game against the Calgary Fire 5-1, the Chiefs bounced back in the final, erasing a 2-0 Calgary lead before Rylee McLeod scored the game-winner in the shootout for a thrilling 4-3 victory.
Pacific Region Championship
Game 1 – April 7
Rush 3, Chiefs 0
Game 2 – April 8
Rush 5, Chiefs 2
The Fraser Valley Rush advance to Esso Cup National Championship tournament
Here is a breakdown of the teams that were in contention to be Pacific Region representatives at the Esso Cup:
AFHL Competing Teams (Canada Rankings as of April 5)
#4 Calgary Fire
#7 St. Albert Slash
#10 Red Deer Chiefs
#41 Edmonton Pandas
#48 Lloydminster Steelers
#52 Rocky Mountain Raiders
#10 Red Deer Chiefs 4, #4 Calgary Fire 3 (SO)
The Chiefs pulled off the minor upset in a thriller that featured 86 total shots on goal, a third-period comeback and a scoreless overtime. Rylee Mcleod’s shootout goal turned out to be the one that sent Red Deer on to the Pacific Region Championship and made a winner out of goaltender Taya Christie, who finished with 44 saves. McLeod and Nadia Lavoie each finished with a goal and two assists for Red Deer, with Alyssa Shaw adding a goal and an assist.
The Red Deer Chiefs advance to the Pacific Region Championship
BCEHL Competing Teams (Canada Rankings as of April 5)
#1 Fraser Valley Rush
#31 Thompson-Okanagan Lakers
#40 Vancouver Island Seals
#55 Greater Vancouver Comets
#69 Northern Capitals
Championship Series (best of three)
#1 Fraser Valley Rush def. #31 Thompson-Okanagan Lakers, 2-0 (best of three)
Fraser Valley swept the Lakers by scores of 5-1 and 5-0 to earn the right to take on the No. 7 Red Deer Chiefs for the Pacific Region title and a trip to the Esso Cup National Championship. Vienna Rubin scored three times in the two contests, with Aynsley D’Ottavio adding a pair of goals in the opener and Leah Barnard, Nahvin Bal and Cassandra Kehler each potting single goals in both games. Rebecca Noble made 18 saves to win the opener, while Clara Juca stopped all 21 shots she faced to record the Game 2 shutout.
The Fraser Valley rush advance to the Pacific Region Championship.
It’s been a decade since the Regina Rebels were last at the Esso Cup. This year the team advanced to the West Region Championship with a chance to make its third appearance at the Women’s U18 National Club Championship after winning the SFU18AAAHL title. Both Rebels’ playoff series came down to deciding games, with Hannah Tresek leading the way in goal by posting shutouts in both contests to help Regina advance to the West Regional.
The Winnipeg Ice hoped to make their first appearance at the Esso Cup after cruising to the MFHL title. The Ice swept the Interlake Lightning and Winnipeg Avros to meet rival Westman Wildcats in the final. Although the Wildcats won three of four meetings between the two teams during the regular season, the Ice swept the series to clinch the provincial crown. Netminder Jordyn Nepinak-Sargent was named playoff MVP with an 8-0 record, 0.74 GAA and two shutouts against the Wildcats.
West Region Championship and Team Info
West Region Championship
#3 Regina Rebels def #12 Winnipeg Ice, 2-0 (best of three)
Game 1 – April 7
Rebels 4, Ice 3 (OT)
Game 2 – April 8
Rebels 5, Ice 4 (OT)
Game 3 – April 9
Rush 5, Chiefs 2
The Winnipeg Ice advance to the Esso Cup National Championship tournament
Here is a breakdown of West Region teams that competed to advance to the Esso Cup:
MFHL Competing Teams (Canada Rankings as of April 5)
#12 Winnipeg Ice
#27 Westman Wildcats
#30 Winnipeg Avros
#60 Yellowhead Chiefs
#72 Pembina Valley Hawks
#76 Eastman Selects
#89 Interlake Lightning
#96 Central Plains Capitals
#12 Winnipeg Ice def. #27 Westman Wildcats 3-0 (best of five)
Winnipeg took the opener, 4-1, March 22 and needed only a second-period goal in a 1-0 Game 2 Victory March 26. Game 3 was played March 29 at 9:15 p.m. ET on Westman home ice. Haley Braun scored the deciding goal in Game 2, with Jordan Nepinak-Sargent recording the 19-save shutout. The Wildcats jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the opener before Winnipeg rallied for four straight goals from four different players. Izabella Mann led the way with a goal and an assist. Deciding Game 3 also was a 1-0 white-knuckler as the Ice completed the series sweep. Haley Braun was the hero once again in Game 3, scoring the championship-winner in overtime, with Nepinak-Sargent again coming up huge in goal by making 33 saves to earn the shutout.
The Winnipeg Ice advance to the West Region Championship.
SFU18AAAHL Competing Teams (Canada Rankings as of April 5)
#3 Regina Rebels
#6 Saskatoon Stars
#8 Swift Current Wildcats
#19 Notre Dame Hounds
#47 Prince Albert Bears *
#54 Battleford Sharks
#70 Weyburn Gold Wings
* Esso Cup Host Team
Fedoruk Cup Championship Series
#3 Regina Rebels def. #6 Saksatoon Stars, 2-1 (best of three)
Game 2 was played March 28 at 9 p.m. ET in Saskatoon at Merlis Belsher Place after the Stars skated to a 5-3 victory in Game 1. Five different players scored in Saskatoon’s Game 1 victory March 26, and Ava Drabyk made 29 saves to earn the win. Regina led, 2-1, early in the second period before Saskatoon netted four straight goals to break the game open. Peyton Gabruck, Megan Hirschfield, Keyra Buziak, Avery Bairos and Sage Babey scored for the Stars. Regina rebounded to win Game 2, 3-1, and then Game 3, 6-0, to advance to the West Region Championship. Saskatoon opened the scoring on Ireland Stein’s goal five minutes into Game 2, but Regina got goals from Kadence Dansereau, Brooklyn Nimegeers and Ashley Grice to rally for the 3-1 win as Hannah Tresek made 25 saves. Game 3 featured an even first period, with the Rebels getting a goal from Berlin Lolacher, and a five-goal second-period Regina explosion. Greta Henderson, Jada Johns, Avery Gottselig, Nimegeers and Stryker Zablocki tallied in that run as six-different Rebels scored to secure the championship. Tresek made 18 saves to record the shutout.
The Regina Rebels advance to the West Region Championship
The Laurentides-Lanaudiere Stars won the Quebec championship to advance to the Esso Cup National Championship tournament by capturing the Chevrolet Cup championship April 7-9.
Championship Game – April 9
#25 Laurentides-Lanaudiere Stars 4, #23 Gatineau Intrepid 3 (OT)
Stars goalie Beatrice Plouffe was named star of the game in leading her team to the Quebec championship and a berth in the ESSO Cup National Championship. Elyssa Lalonde got Gatineau on the board first in the opening period before Maude Rochon evened the score in the second. Genevieve Godin put the Intrepid back on top, but Rochon answered once again early in the third. The Stars finally surged ahead on Loelie Lachapelle’s goal 8:54 into the final period only to see Laurence Lafleur send the game to overtime with a tally of her own at the 14:10 mark. Odelie Beaufort proved to be the hero in extra time, however, as she sent the Stars to the Esso Cup 3:25 into OT.
The Laurentides-Lanaudiere Stars advance to the Esso Cup National Championship tournament
Provincial Championship Information
Provincial Championship Results
Here is a breakdown of teams that were in the running to be Quebec provincial representatives at the Esso Cup:
Hockey Quebec LHEQ Competing Teams (Canada Rankings as of April 5)
#9 Quebec A’s
#23 Gatineau Intrepid
#25 Laurentides-Lanaudiere Stars
#73 Richelieu Remparts
#79 Maurice 55 Stars
#83 Laval Amazons
#81 Triolet Harfangs
#97 Lac St-Lous Warriors
Ontario Region (Canada Rankings as of April 5)
The second-ranked Stoney Creek Sabres boast an offensively strong team that finished second in the OWHA regular-season standings after outscoring its opponents by more than 90 goals. That success carried over into the OWHA provincials, with Stoney Creek going unbeaten in Pool A against the Nepean Wildcats, Rideau St. Lawrence Thunder and Waterloo Ravens. The Sabres shut out the Ottawa Senators and Peterborough Ice Kats 4-0 in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, before defeating the North York Storm to represent Ontario at the Esso Cup.
Stoney Creek last competed for a national title in 2019, coming away with bronze after 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 in the bronze-medal game.
There are too many teams inn the OWHA to list them all here, but here are the top-ranked clubs that werer in contention for an Esso Cup berth:
OWHA Top Competing Teams (Canada Rankings as of April 5)
#2 Stoney Creek Sabres
#5 Durham West Lightning
#12 Sudbury Lady Wolves
#14 Ottawa Lady Senators
#15 Oakville Hornets
#16 Toronto Aeros
#18 Caledon Coyotes
#17 North Halton Twisters
#20 Central York Panthers
#21 North York Storm
Provincial Championship Schedule
Championship Game - April 16
#2 Stoney Creek Sabres 3, #21 North York Storm 0
The Stoney Creedk Sabres Advance to the ESSO Cup National Championhip tournament
The Atlantic Region Championship was held March 30 to April 2 at Membertou S&W Centre (Emers Arena) in Nova Scotia.
The Northern Selects looked to represent the East Coast for the second year in a row, and were the only team out of five regional qualifiers who had previously competed in the Women’s U18 National Club Championship.
The Western Flames joined the Selects as returnees from the 2022 Atlantic Championship. Forward Isabelle Michaud led the Flames in scoring in both the regular season and playoffs, scoring about one-third of her team’s goals during the regular season (24 out of 75).
All five teams had strong postseason performances, boasting a combined 18-5 playoff record and outscoring opponents 93-51.
Atlantic Region Championship and Team Information
Atlantic Region Championship Scores
April 4 - #11 Northern Selects 5, #66 Western Flames 0
After a scoreless first period, the Selects exploded for four second-period goals from four different players. Olivia Marks, Kendall Doiron, Bree MacPherson and Mackenzie Greencorn all recorded second-period markers, with Brooke Thomson adding the fifth goal in the final frame. Jorja Burrows made 20 saves to earn the shutout in goal.
The Northern Selects advance to Esso Cup National Championship tournament
Here is a breakdown of the teams that competed for spots in the Atlantic Region Championship:
Hockey New Brunswick & Labrador Competing Teams (Canada Rankings as of April 5)
#57 Tri-Pen Ice
#59 Eastern Icebreakers
#98 Central IcePak
#100 Western Warriors
Tri-Pen Ice defeat Eastern Icebreakers, 3-2 and 5-0, to advance to the Atlantic Region Championship
MMFHL Competing Teams
#11 Northern Selects
#35 Cape Breton Lynx
#34 Dartmouth Penguins
#37 Halifax Western Capitals
#66 Western Flames
#67 Eastern Stars
#78 Western Wind
#92 Moncton Rockets
#101 Fundy Kraken
Nova Scotia Provincial Playoff Information
Northern Selects win Nova Scotia championship and advance to the Atlantic Regional Championship
New Brunswick Provincial Playoff Information
Western Flames win New Brunswick championship, defeating the Moncton Rockets, two games to one, to advance to the Atlantic Regional Championship
PEI Provincial Playoff Information
Eastern Stars win the PEI championship and advance to the Atlantic Regional