The Fraser Valley Rush settled for second place at the national championships this past weekend, despite a valiant effort to try to claim B.C. its first-ever U18AAA girls hockey title.
And a pair of Tri-City athletes were part of the journey through until the final buzzer.
Leah Barnard (Anmore) and Gillian Lapierre (Port Coquitlam) each contributed for the Rush at the 2022 Esso Cup, combining for nine points (two goals and seven assists) at the tournament in Okotoks, Alta.
Barnard even got on the nationally-televised gold-medal game scoresheet with an assist on Fraser Valley's only goal in the final contest, which ended in a 4-1 deficit to the undefeated Durham West Lightning.
The Rush finished with a 4-3 record at the Esso Cup; two of the three losses came at the hands of the Ontario-champion Lightning.
Lapierre recorded a team-high four assists and added one goal in Fraser Valley's third game of the tourney for a total of five points in seven matches.
During the regular-season, the 17-year-old forward tallied 24 points in 23 games with the Rush, including 11 goals and 13 assists.
She led the yellow and navy with eight points in the playoffs — four goals and four assists — en route to capturing the B.C. U18AAA girls' championship banner and, eventually, the Pacific regional spot at the Esso Cup.
Lapierre was also a member of the gold medal-winning provincial squad at the 2021 U18 western Canadian regional championships.
Barnard posted four points at nationals, including three assists and a goal.
The 17-year-old forward's marker was while the Rush were short-handed in their semi-final clash with Notre Dame (Sask.).
She recorded 36 points in 32 games in the 2021-22 season, including 10 goals and 26 assists, which was the second-highest among Fraser Valley forwards and the third of all her teammates.
Barnard added five points in five playoff games.
This was the first time in Esso Cup history that a B.C. team reached the final, as well as the playoff round.
The Rush's game-by-game results were as follows:
- 4-1 loss to Durham West Lightning (gold medal game)
- 3-1 win over Notre Dame Hounds (semi-final)
- 5-2 loss to Durham West Lightning
- 5-4 shootout win over Northern Selects
- 6-5 loss to Prince Albert Bears
- 2-0 win over Notre Dame Hounds
- 4-1 win over Remparts du Richelieu
Tri-City boys nab one win at Telus Cup
Meanwhile, the Vancouver North East Chiefs ran into a wall facing off against Canada's best U18AAA boys' hockey teams.
At the 2022 Telus Cup, the Tri-Cities-based club failed to make the weekend playoffs after finishing tied for last in the six-team standings with a record fo 0-1-3-1.
Their lone victory was on day two — 5-4 in overtime against the Notre Dame Hounds.
Andrew Casellato led the Chiefs with six points in five game, which included a team-high five assists.
Port Moody's Matteo Pero and Coquitlam's Tomis Marinkovic scored four goals each. They were the only two players on the roster with more than one goal at the national tournament.
Between the pipes, Coquitlam's Oliver Auyeung-Ashton started in four of the five games and combined for 121 saves on 138 shots for a .877 save percentage (SV%).
Vancouver North East's game-by-game results were as follows:
- 3-2 shootout loss to Mississauga Reps
- 7-4 loss to Moncton Flyers (eventual national champions)
- 3-2 loss to Sydney Rush
- 5-4 overtime wiin over Notre Dame Hounds
- 6-3 loss to Cantonniers de Magog