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Fraser Valley Rush heads to Alberta for national championships

It’s been quite a season for the team, which has four Langley players on roster
After winning the BCEHL championship, Fraser Valley Rush now have their sights set on a national title, at the U18AAA National Championship, the ESSO CUP in Alberta May 16 - 21. (Twitter)

After winning the BCEHL championship, Fraser Valley Rush now have their sights set on a national title, at the U18AAA National Championship, the ESSO CUP in Alberta May 16 to 21.

If one spend time with the Rush, they’d hear the team repeat several phrases: “One to two, A to B,” represents where the team wants to be and how they will get there; “40 for 40” represents the importance of putting effort into every action on the ice, like backchecking.

However, there is one phrase that fully represents the team at its core: “Other teams are here to beat us, we’re just here to be us.”

As head coach Tony Lindsay describes it, the Rush want to focus on being who they are as a team and the things they excel at in every game.

“We just got to focus on being the best version of ourselves,” Lindsay says. “Our goal is to make sure that we have more fun than the other team. We use this slogan before every game: party on the bench. It’s got to be a party on the bench. We got to celebrate every success, every blocked shot, every successful back check.”

Five Rush players hail from Langley: Anna McKee, Mackenzie Galick, Cassandra Kehler, Julia Clauzel, and Kayla White.

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That culture has guided the team to a lot of success this season, with the Rush losing three games in league play on their way to becoming B.C. Elite Hockey League (BCEHL) champions. They are also the first team from British Columbia to ever defeat the Alberta champions to win their way to the Esso Cup as Pacific champions.

With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the number of games played last season, the Rush made the decision to front-end load the first six weeks of their schedule to kickstart the season and help players get recruitment exposure. At the final tournament of the six-week stretch, the Rush faced adversity and went 1-3 at the Chinook Classic in Calgary.

But the team took time to regroup and learn from the experience. Moving forward, they were stronger as a team and it showed on the ice—at the team’s next tournament, the USA-Canada Cup, the Rush went undefeated.

“That was the weekend I thought, ‘You know what, we got it,’” Lindsay explains. “The girls learned how to respond to [adversity].”

That experience paid off when it was time for the playoffs in March. In the series, the Rush gave up a third-period lead and dropped Game 1 to the Northern Capitals before rebounding to win the final two games. At the Pacific Regional, the Edmonton Pandas pushed the Rush to be at their best with two close back-and-forth games, including an overtime victory for Fraser Valley in Game 1 of the best-of-three series.

“Even when we fall behind, even when we faced adversity, the girls responded well to that,” he says.

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Overall, the Rush have cultivated an environment where everyone feels they have a role, and no player’s role is bigger than another player. That’s evident in how much the team loves being together at the rink – when general manager Alain Wozney shows up to the rink 90 minutes before puck drop, he’ll often see members of the team waiting to get into the dressing room.

“[It’s] to the point that the rink is saying they’re coming too early,” Wozney says. “That goes to show that they really love being together and love coming to the rink and being a part of something special.”

– courtesy Shannon Coulter, Hockey Canada

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