Among an accomplished group of women to have made history by competing in the first two CWHL All-Star Games, both contested at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, Brittany Esposito is blazing an exciting trail. A member of the Calgary Inferno, Esposito has already made her mark in franchise history, sharing the record for most points in one season by a rookie with Danny Stone.
Heading into February, Esposito logged 20 points. Tied for 11th in league scoring with Inferno teammate Jessica Campbell, she ranks second on the Inferno in assists, trailing only Brianne Jenner, testament to her strong playmaking skills.
Her best performance included a pair of three point outputs. The first took place on a November 1 contest against the Boston Blades while a December 6 home match against Toronto saw her log two goals and an assist. When she has logged at least one point, the Inferno have enjoyed a 9-3-0 record, of which one loss occurred in a shootout.
Suiting up for Natalie Spooner’s Team White, it marked the second straight All-Star Game that Esposito was part of the squad. Joining her again on Team White included the likes of Spooner, Jessica Campbell, Genevieve Lacasse, Jocelyne Larocque and Tara Watchorn.
Esposito was lined up against some of her Inferno teammates. Among the members of the Inferno that were part of Julie Chu’s Team Black roster included the likes of elite goaltender Delayne Brian (a teammate on Team White for the inaugural All-Star Game), Canadian national team player Jillian Saulnier, and living legend Hayley Wickenheiser, who was making her CWHL All-Star Game debut.
“Both games had great atmospheres, I think this year the league really improved fan and player experience making it a full 60 minute game. With this being my second year in the league, just knowing some of the other girls a little bit more made the game and weekend a lot more fun. And of course seeing a penalty shot, one of the most exciting plays in hockey, was pretty cool as well. Thanks Wick!”
Although Esposito was not able to score on Brian in the All-Star Game, Inferno teammate Jessica Campbell fired the puck past her for her first career All-Star goal, snapping Team Black’s bid for a shutout, the game was one defined by fun. Reflecting on the very rare chance to play against Inferno teammates in a unique setting, her experience was one where the on-ice experience featured a friendly rapport,
“It was a lot of fun playing against my Inferno teammates, especially Jill Saulnier because she always has a smile on her face. As well as Delayne Brian, because I felt like I was around the net a lot and there was some good banter back and forth.”
With several members of Les Canadiennes de Montreal part of Team Black’s roster, including Cathy Chartrand, Caroline Ouellette and Game MVP Marie-Philip Poulin, their recent brush with history prior to the All-Star Game was a great example of hockey’s six degrees of separation. Taking into account that Les Canadiennes participated on New Year’s Eve in the first professional women’s hockey game contested outdoors, the Women’s Winter Classic in Foxboro, Massachusetts, it brought back pleasant memories of Esposito’s career among hardcore hockey fans.
As two participants in the Winter Classic, Rachel Llanes and Casey Pickett also played in the first NCAA game contested outdoors, a 2010 affair at Boston’s Fenway Park, it would prove to have an eventual CWHL connection for the Inferno. Of note, Brittany Esposito was their teammate for the Fenway Park game, members of the Northeastern Huskies. Esposito scored the first goal in that landmark game, which was also the first outdoor goal scored in NCAA women’s hockey history.
Just like Frozen Fenway, the All-Star Game has provided Esposito with her own series of cherished moments. Among one of the highlights of competing in the second CWHL All-Star Game included the comments of a player that she grew up idolizing. Part of Rogers Sportsnet’s outstanding broadcast team, Cassie Campbell praised Esposito’s efforts.
Adding to the jubilation is the fact that Campbell has her own proud hockey roots in Alberta. Having played for the former Calgary Oval X-Treme (which once featured Hayley Wickenheiser on its roster), the club laid a foundation upon which the Inferno have proudly built upon, paving an empowering road for a very promising future. The chance for Campbell and Esposito to cross such accomplished paths in a unique setting brings the modern greatness of Calgary women’s hockey full circle,
“A moment I will probably remember most about this All-Star experience was reading the texts I received from family and friends after the game about Cassie Campbell giving me a little bit of a shoutout during the broadcast.
It was a treat playing with and against such great players and then hearing that my idol spoke about me during the game is something I will always remember. I will also have to include the friendly mocking from the girls, especially my Inferno teammates, for using the word "delightful" during my interview at the draft.”
"All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Jess Bazal