Special events announced for Esso Cup

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald 2023 Esso Cup Chair Robin Wildey delivers a speech during a press conference at the Art Hauser Centre on Apr. 4, 2023.

It’s been almost a half-decade in the making, but after several cancellations and postponements, the Esso Cup will finally take place in Prince Albert in less than three weeks’ time.

The Esso Cup was cancelled in 2020 due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and was relocated to Okotoks, Alberta in 2022.

Robin Wildey, the chair of the 2023 Esso Cup says the host committee is looking forward to hosting a premium event.

“We’re got past the countdown from 34 days when it was cancelled in 2020. Now things are starting to ramp up and it’s feeling real. People are getting excited. I’m looking forward to this great event. It should be an awesome time. Things are coming at us fast and hard and we’re just focusing on making sure that everything we can control is here and making sure that the girls, the fans, and the parents who come in here have a great experience.”

During a press conference Tuesday, it was announced that each player at the Esso Cup would be receiving a handmade lanyard and the player of the game would be receiving a pair of mittens.

Wildey says the committee wanted something unique to Prince Albert for each player to take with them.

“We wanted to make sure that our player of the game [awards] were area specific to what we are and these handcrafted leather mittens. The lanyard that that each girl is going to have, it is going to be a real special keepsake for them for moving forward.”

Several events have been planned alongside the Esso Cup including schools attending games from Monday through Thursday, a welcome event on Saturday Apr. 22 and entertainment in the Ches Leach lounge throughout the tournament.

Wildey says the support from the community for the Esso Cup has been outstanding, despite the numerous delays.

“It’s been amazing. Our business supporters have been there from day one, giving us everything we need when it comes to the sponsorship or financial or whatever we need. The support from them has been great. I got to say thanks to my committee as well. They have stuck together.  Minus one person who took the managing job for the Bears, it’s been the same committee since 2018, which is a good commitment and shows that we are committed to this event and female hockey in PA.”

The Bears played in the Esso Cup in 2022 as the host team, despite the tournament being hosted in Okotoks, Alberta.

One player returning from last year’s roster is goaltender Brooke Archer, who is in her third season with Prince Albert.

She says she is looking forward to finally getting the opportunity to play in the Esso Cup at the Northern Bears home arena, the Art Hauser Centre.

“I think it’s just so exciting. Obviously, lots of us in our third year came here for the reason that we were hosting Esso Cup and we were going to get something so big and somewhere so close to home. I think it’s really exciting to finally get it at our hometown rink and now we can have family and friends, and everyone come support us.”

The Northern Bears kick off the 2023 Esso Cup on Apr. 23 against the Atlantic region, represented by the Northern Selects.

Archer says she is looking forward to playing in front of the hometown fans in the tournament.

“I’m really looking forward to the big crowd, lots of us haven’t really played in front of a huge crowd like this. I think I’m really looking forward to most playing in front of a big crowd and just playing in such a competitive tournament.”

The 2023 Esso Cup runs from Apr. 23 through Apr. 29 at the Art Hauser Centre.