Not only players from the West Central region on the Prince Albert Bears U18 AAA girls team at the Esso Cup in Okotoks last week, an official from the West Central area was there calling the games as well.
Jessica Coleman, who refereed a SWHL game with Britt Danberg, another female official earlier this season, was at the national championship. This was the second time Coleman was at the Esso Cup, but the first time as a head referee.
“I have been to the Esso Cup before as a lines person when it was in Weyburn a while ago, and I've also been to a U18 national championship when it was in Regina. But those were all pre children and then I took some time off to have two little boys and now I'm back,” Coleman explained.
The experience of having both the TELUS Cup, which is the male U18 AAA championship, and the Esso Cup in the same venue, was a unique experience according to Coleman.
“It was amazing," Colman said. “The setup and Hockey Canada was fantastic. Having the TELUS Cup doubled with the Esso Cup was amazing to get to see the guys as well,” she added.
As the championship was well after most hockey had been completed in the province, Coleman had to find ways to stay in shape for the tournament.
“(I had to do) just personal workouts. There was this Sask First (tournament) around Easter that I was able to go down to Regina and get some skates in but, luckily the first two days that we were there (Okotoks), they did some on ice, Powerskating and some team building stuff that really helped,” Coleman said.
For the first time, referees and lines persons from the Esso Cup were chosen from all over the country, not just in the province where it was held, something Coleman was excited to be a part of.
“It was an amazing experience. Usually, the Esso and TELUS Cup are hosted within a province and they don't open it up to nationally, and it was really exciting for the first time ever that they had referees from all across the country,” Coleman added.
The Durham West Lightning were crowned Esso Cup champions, after defeating the Fraser Valley Rush in the gold medal final, 4-1.
Coleman has returned to her position of teacher at Cando School north of Biggar, and hopes to make the international level in the near future, which would be the Women’s World Hockey Championship.