After a long, exhausting season when there is nothing left in the tank, hoisting the 35-pound Cup should feel like you’re lifting a truck, but in the moment, it weighs no more than a feather.
The atmosphere, emotion and the mere realization of achieving a lifetime goal like winning the greatest and most famous trophy of all time, wipes out all other challenges, like holding that Cup above your head for longer than your muscles will agree to.
Every child who grows up with hockey in their blood dreams of such moments like these, of one day hoisting Lord Stanley’s chalice above his/her head.
Yet, for the women’s game, a variation of this dream has been born. After years of litigation, the Clarkson Cup was finally hoisted for the first time this past weekend in Kingston, Ont.
After finishing on top in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) with only three losses, the Montreal Stars defeated the No. 1 seed from the Western Women’s Hockey League (WWHL), the Minnesota Whitecaps and were awarded with the inaugural Clarkson Cup.
The Minnesota team was comprised of numerous Team USA players who are preparing for the upcoming 2009 World Women’s Championship in Finland. Included were veteran Angela Ruggiero, tournament MVP Jenny Potter, Julie Chu, Caitlin Cahow and Tricia Dunn-Luomo.
Montreal's powerhouse players were two-time Olympic gold medalists Caroline Ouellette, MVP of the championship game, and goalie Kim St-Pierre, both of whom will also be going to Finland with Team Canada to compete at the worlds.
The individual leagues played two rounds of playoffs to determine the top two teams from each league. The Montreal Stars and Brampton Thunder of the CWHL and the Minnesota Whitecaps and the Calgary Oval X-treme from the WWHL advanced to the finals and met last weekend for the championship in Kingston, Ont.
Montreal was defeated by Minnesota during a preliminary match, but found their way back to the final by beating Brampton in semifinal action. Meanwhile, Minnesota defeated Calgary in the other semifinal game.
Entering the final with the psychological advantage of having already beat Montreal, Minnesota was in a good position, but led by Ouellette and goaltender St-Pierre, the Stars continued to show why they were No. 1 in the CWHL by defeating Minnesota 3-1 in the championship game.
The Clarkson Cup is approximately the same size of the original Stanley Cup and the inaugural hoisting of it means a lot to women’s hockey.
The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Canada’s former Governor General, had the honor of presenting the Montreal Stars, with her namesake trophy.
Could this be the start of something great? Will girls grow up and dream of hoisting the Clarkson Cup above their heads one day?
And maybe we should contact the manufacturer of the trophy and give them a heads up that we will be needing some additions to it, (similar to the evolution of the Stanley Cup), because if you ask anyone of us who cherish this game, we’ll tell you confidently that we’re not going anywhere.
Look forward to CWHL action starting up again next fall, and until then, stay up to date by visiting the CWHL website.
Coming up, the Women’s World Championship beginning April 4 in Hameenlinna, Finland. Check back here for upcoming coverage and tournament recaps in my next blog.
Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.
Erika Vanderveer is a goaltender with the Burlington Barracudas of the Canadian Women’s League, a six-team circuit featuring many the game’s top female players. Vanderveer is in her first season in the CWHL after spending four years tending goal at Ohio State on a full scholarship and one year in Europe in the European Women’s League. She will blog for THN.com throughout the season. Read her other entries HERE.