For Abbotsford hockey player Samantha Schwarz, participating in the Esso Cup is exciting on a couple of levels.
To begin with, the national midget women’s hockey championship is being hosted by Schwarz’s Fraser Valley Phantom regional rep squad next week (April 21-27) at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre in Burnaby.
It’s the first time the six-team tournament has been held west of the Rocky Mountains, which affords Schwarz’s friends and family a unique opportunity to watch her play in the elite event in person.
If all goes well, many more folks from coast to coast will have a chance to watch Schwarz perform. The title game (April 27, 6 p.m.) is being broadcast live on TSN.
“That would be a dream,” Schwarz enthused, “to make it to the finals and be on TSN. I’m really hoping we can do it.”
Schwarz, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Yale Secondary, has fashioned an impressive campaign with the Phantom. The left winger finished third on the team in scoring during the regular season, notching 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points in 49 games, and helped guide them to a B.C. provincial title. The Fraser Valley squad swept the Thompson-Okanagan Rockets by scores of 2-1 and 5-1 in a best-of-three series earlier this month.
“When we work as a team, we’re really good,” said Schwarz, who is the only Abbotsford player on the Phantom. “We just need to focus on that at nationals.
“I think that we could potentially win it.”
In addition to her team-oriented goals, the Esso Cup also affords Schwarz one last chance to impress university recruiters. She’s been weighing several hockey scholarship offers, but has held off on committing until after nationals.
“I’m definitely going to university next year to play hockey, I’m just not sure where yet,” she said. “By the end of the week, I’ll for sure know where I’m going.”
The Esso Cup brings together five regional champions (Pacific, West, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic) along with the host Phantoms. Full-tournament ticket packages are now available for $60 each, along with special group rates. For schedule and ticket information, visit fraservalleyphantom.com.