Remember the name Sarah Potomak.
At just 14, Potomak showed she has a bright future ahead of her with Hockey Canada’s women’s program, scoring twice to lead Team B.C. to a 3-1 win over Saskatchewan at the U-18 National Women’s Hockey Championships.
Right from opening face-off it seemed Potomak was in every scrum and battle for the puck, and when she saw open ice she took it, beating defenders with her speed and puck handling. Before long the Events Centre fans took notice, buzzing every time Potomak touched the puck.
“I felt really comfortable, I had confidence, and did my best,” said Potomak, who humbly credited her linemates for her performance. “I had amazing linemates with Lauren [Spring] and Hannah [Miller], we all just crashed the net.”
B.C. scored first when Potomak backhanded a loose puck past Saskatchewan goaltender Jane Kish in the first period, providing the host team the start they were after.
Defence Micah Hart scored on the power play midway through the second period putting B.C. up 2-0, before Potomak scored her second of the night – also on the power play – giving Team B.C. a three goal cushion entering the third period. Potomak’s linemate, and team captian, Lauren Spring assisted on all three goals, and Miller added a helper.
“We back-checked hard, we fore-checked, we buried our chances, we blocked shots, we sacrificed the body, we did everything we possibly could to get the win,” said Potomak, who says her first experience at U-18’s is all the more special playing with the crowd behind her and Team B.C.
“It’s an honour playing here, I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else.”
Saskatchewan head coach Steve Kook felt his squad came out with the intensity they needed to compete with B.C. in the first game of the tournament, but missed their assignments on defence.
“I thought our girls came out with a ton of energy we just didn’t do the things we wanted to do,” he said. “I thought we chased pucks, I thought we could of improved in our defensive zone, I thought we chased pucks there, and if we get out of our zone I think we are okay.”
B.C.’s head coach Sylvain Leone said that while his team is young, with many underage players, they came out looking like veterans.
“They managed the puck well, got pucks deep, didn’t give them the puck for free, and we played three periods of hockey. They played like veterans, which was great.”
And no player looked more comfortable on the ice than Potomak who is one of the youngest players at the U-18’s.
“She’s pretty unique, I’ve been in the program for 15 years and I’ve never coached a player her age that has the confidence she has,” said Leone, who noted that Potomak can sometimes be too confident with the puck on her stick. “She’s fearless, she’ll take anyone one-on-one.
“She doesn’t feel like a first-year underage player at this tournament, and that’s the best thing for us, she just thinks she is another player and she is going out there and doing the job.”
U-18 preliminaries continue today with British Columbia set to face Ontario-Red. Puck drops at 7:00 p.m.