On December 17th the City of Moncton will play host to an unparalleled hockey rivalry.
The world’s best will be on display and skate on Avenir Centre ice.
The latest chapter in the longest running and arguably the fiercest rivalry in hockey will be written on December 17th.
Two proud hockey nations will do battle. It doesn’t get any better than this when it comes to the game of hockey. It’s the United States versus Canada.
“This will truly be an exciting chapter in Moncton’s rich hockey history,” said Chair of Events Moncton and Moncton City Councilor Greg Turner.
“Hosting a matchup between the top two powers in Women’s Hockey in the world is sure to be a memorable event,” Turner added.
“To have the opportunity to cheer for our country is unbelievable. It will be our chance to show the rest of Canada just how proud we are of these young dedicated hockey players.”
The Rivalry Series will be another first for the Avenir Centre.
“Obviously, I grew up playing in the Maritimes,” said Olympic Silver Medalist and Team Canada veteran forward Jill Saulnier.
“I’ve played a lot of the games in Moncton over the years, but this is my first time in the Avenir Centre and it’s beautiful and the atmosphere here is amazing.”
“Speaking on behalf of the entire team, we can’t wait to play here.”
Hockey runs deep here in the Maritimes and this event will only add to it’s already storied history and tradition.
“It’s tough to beat Maritime host’s,” Saulnier said with a proud smile.
“It’s definitely going to be a busy bustling crowd here in Moncton and I know for a fact anytime we have the opportunity to play on home soil, it’s another player advantage to have that fan base and that excitement.”
“Obviously for me coming back east holds a little bit more and extra power to my heart for sure, but I’m just excited to bring the rest of the girls here and showcase what we have been working on,” explained the pride of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The Maritimes will always hold a special place in Team Canada’s netminder Embrence Maschmeyer’s heart.
“I’m excited to playing here, the last time I played down east was in Halifax at the Winter Games, the environment and atmosphere was incredible.”
“I still remember the fans cheering to this day,” confessed Maschmeyer.
“Anytime we get to play in Canada it feels like home no matter where we are,” confessed Maschmeyer who’s brother currently calls New Brunswick home.
“I feel a little more attached to the Maritimes now that he’s living down here. I’m excited to be playing down here.”
The Rivalry Series was designed to bring attention to April’s IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships which are being hosted in Halifax.
Nevertheless, now more than ever the women’s game is in great need of a platform and a voice.
The importance of this Series truly transcends the game.
“We have had a unique year with our league folding. We have had a lot of ice time together this season,” confessed Maschmeyer.
“We have had a few camps and I think we have done a really good job gelling.”
“We are close knit team, we are really excited to play and will be ready to play on the 17th,” stressed Maschmeyer who played her College Hockey at Harvard.
Women’s hockey has certainly seen its share of adversity throughout it’s history, but the last year and half could have been devastating if it wasn’t for many crusaders like Saulnier and Maschmeyer who continue to carry the torch not only for their country, but for the game itself.
“Obviously, it’s been an interesting year,” admitted Saulier.
“It’s a transition year for us. It’s a day to day kind of focus and that’s what’s going to lead us to success,” explained Saulnier.
“We have to make sure we are focusing on us and what we can do to grow as hockey players and a team as well.”
“The preparation we are doing every single day is to showcase our skills and our talents on home soil come December.”
“Any time you play the US you know it’s going to be a good game whether it’s the Rivalry Series last season, the World Championships or the one in Pittsburgh that just happened it’s always a privilege to play against them,” stressed Saulnier.
“It’s always an exciting physical game against them which is good preparation for when they come to town.”
So how are Saulnier and Maschmeyer going to prepare for such an intense battle given high expectations and the nerves that come with playing on home soil?
“I think it’s to be always prepared individually, so we can have team success,” Maschmeyer said.
“I think it’s motivating,” Maschmeyer said of playing on home soil.
“Of course there’s nerves, but I think that means that we care a lot.”
“There’s definitely nerves, but I think there are a positive. You know we are doing everything we can to train hard and work hard on the ice and continue to grow and I think we all continue to do that we will all grow as a team,” Maschmeyer added.
“Nerves are going to happen when you play in big games that comes with big competition, but if anything we are going to have a crazy crowd here and there’s nothing like playing on Canadian soil with a group of girls that are going to give it their all and showcase a good game for the entire country,” Saulnier said.
The rivalry may be as intense as ever on the ice, between the long time bitter rivals, but there is a tremendous amount of solidarity and a desire to grow game amongst all the players in the game.
“Our opponents are teammates off the ice because we are trying to grow the game in the same direction which is really unique, but very powerful that we can come together off the ice and say this is what we need to grow women’s hockey and grow the sport in general,” explained Maschmeyer.
“It is a transition year, but we still get on the ice and compete hard.”
“It’s an interesting dynamic, but I think we are doing a great job at separating the two and making sure we are working toward what we want,” said a reflective Maschmeyer.
So how difficult is carrying the torch for women’s hockey in this country and beyond?
“Above hockey players we take a lot of pride in being role models for the next generation,” confessed Saulnier.
“I wouldn’t say it’s difficult to hold the torch for the younger generation, but I would say it’s a privilege and it’s an honour, it’s something that makes us be our best every single day,” stressed Saulnier.
December 17th will be a ground breaking night for the City of Moncton and the Avenir Centre.
The Rivalry Series will not only showcase the games best, it will showcase a dedicated and committed group of professionals and role models with an unwavering desire to grow the game they love for future generations of young girls wanting to accomplish their own hockey dreams.