Durham West Lightning earns ESSO Cup national hockey championship for Pickering-Ajax


Published May 23, 2022 at 12:52 am

Durham West Lightning are your national champions.

The U18 women’s hockey club from Pickering-Ajax, bronze medalist in the 2017 ESSO Cup national midget championship, upgraded that to a gold after going a perfect 7-0 at this year’s ESSO Cup, culminating in an emphatic 4-1 win over B.C.’s Fraser Valley Rush Sunday evening at Pason Centennial Arena in Oktoks, Alberta.

The Bolts went 5-0 in the preliminary round and blanked the Northern Selects 4-0 in the semi-final Saturday.


The team throughout the tournament was led by runaway scoring leaders Sadie Hotles and Jessica Pellerin, but its was the team’s secondary scoring that got them the win in Sunday’s final, with Courtney Poelman (Oshawa), Zoe Ziotas (Markham) and Ella Inglis (Pickering) – with a wicked wrist shot off the post – staking the pride of Durham West to a 3-0 lead.

Fraser Valley got one back in the third and Hotles, who was named tournament MVP, iced it with a short-handed empty net goal with just over two minutes remaining. Hotles topped all scorers with 17 points from seven goals and ten assists while Pellerin was the goal scoring Queen with ten, along with five assists.

“I’m so proud of these girls,” Durham head coach Patrick Teggart told Hockey Canada after the game. “They have worked so hard to get here, and to be rewarded is a great feeling. My joy lies with them; they deserve this. We talked all week about how important it was to stay together and win as a team and that is exactly what we did tonight.”

Sophie Helfenstein, who had 27 saves in Sunday’s gold medal game, led all goalies with a 1.60 goals-against average while Abigail Poitras was named top defenceman.

“This feels like a dream,” said Lightning captain Jessica Pellerin (Bowmanville). “These girls have had such positive energy all week both in the room and on the ice. This is one of the greatest experiences of my life and to share it with this group, it’s a special feeling.”

The championship was the fourth by an Ontario team, with the last being the Brantford Ice Boltz in 2016.

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