Durham West Lightning doing Ajax-Pickering proud at ESSO CUP U18 championships


Published May 20, 2022 at 2:51 pm

To say the Durham West Lightning are off to an explosive start in the ESSO Cup U18 Women’s National Championships would not be hyperbole.

In fact, after the club representing Pickering-Ajax roared through the opposition in the round-robin portion of the tournament, winning all five games and outscoring their opponents 23-10, it would be perfectly okay to say they brought the thunder AND the lightning to Oktoks, Alberta for the Canadian Midget championships.

Now they just need to continue their perfect record into this weekend’s semi-final and the final, which goes Sunday afternoon from Pason Centennial Arena.

This morning’s final preliminary game saw the team trounce Fraser Valley – in second place with a 3-1 record heading in to the 10 a.m. puck drop – 5-2, with the two-headed dragons of Jessica Pellerin and Sadie Hotles continuing their scoring exploits. Pellerin had two goals to give her a tournament-leading nine, and Hotles assisted on both to push her tourney-leading point total to 14.

Zoe Ziotas added a pair for the winners with Ella Inglis scoring the final goal.

Durham West opened the tournament with a 6-2 win over Prince Albert, with Pellerin and Hotles scoring twice each, and followed that up with wins over Northern Selects (3-1) and Notre Dame (4-3) before Thursday’s 9-3 beatdown of Quebec midget champs Remparts du Richelieu, with Pellerin scoring four times and adding two assists and Hotles enjoying a seven-point night.

The Ontario Women’s Hockey League champions only dropped one game during the regular season, finishing at the top of the U18 AA division with a 21-1-3 record and a sparkling 95-19 goal differential. That momentum carried into the OWHA provincial tournament, where the Lightning finished atop their group, allowing only five goals on its way to the championship (where they beat local rival Whitby 3-1) and a spot at the Esso Cup.

Durham West earned a bronze medal in the 2017 ESSO Cup but are looking for gold this weekend.

The semi-finals against a yet-to-be-determined opponent will be Saturday. The ESSO Cup final will be Sunday at 3:30 p.m. from the Pason Centennial Arena in Oktoks, Alberta.

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