Scoring one of the greatest goals in the nascent history of women’s ice hockey at the Maccabiah Games, Brittney Sawyer gained a treasured place in sporting Canadiana. One of the most consistent forwards for the gold medal winning Canadian contingent, Sawyer recorded the golden goal, earning a place as a national hockey heroine.
Raised in Calgary, Sawyer’s hockey resume features a breadth of experience. Having played with the prestigious Warner School, followed by a handful of seasons in Canada West play, Sawyer also graced the ice for the Calgary Jags of AJFHL play, a highly competitive semi-pro league.
Gaining the opportunity to return to elite competition via the milestone of the Maccabiah Games, a tremendous feeling of provincial pride engulfed Sawyer. The only Albertan on Canada’s roster, a province long celebrated for producing elite hockey talent that have worn the Maple Leaf, Sawyer enjoyed the prospect of contributing towards this legacy.
The realization of Sawyer’s newest chapter, appreciating the prestige of playing on the international stage, occurred upon the handling of her jersey. A garment unlike no other, embroidered with the iconic Canadian logo made famous by multiple generations, the reality of wearing the Maple Leaf became more exciting upon seeing her name and number on the back. Surrounded by jubilant teammates, equally elated at the thrill of wearing the Maple Leaf, Sawyer absorbed the moment.
“Putting on the Team Canada jersey was the most incredible feeling. Looking around the room and seeing how proud everyone was to be wearing that logo on the front was something I cannot describe.
Turning it around and seeing my number and last name was what made it all feel real. Being able to represent Canada, and being the only player from Alberta is something I will forever be grateful for.”
Among the most unique facets of visiting Israel, host nation of the Games, it served as a life defining moment for Sawyer. From the gastronomic pleasures, to absorbing the magnitude of the historic sites, many have lasted for two millennia, a combined sense of desire and inspiration have spurred the interest to continue her hockey odyssey.
“Everything from opening ceremonies, to getting to see the beauties of Jerusalem and other areas of Israel. EVEN our 7am practice in Jerusalem ended up being a highlight! Of course, I cannot leave out the food, I think I ate enough shawarmas to last a lifetime. Overall, it was the most incredible experience and I hope to be back to play again in three years – and to visit before then!”
Recording at least one goal in each of Canada’s games, enjoying an undefeated mark, Sawyer delivered on all accounts in the gold medal game. Prevailing by a 6-2 tally over the United States, another chapter in the compelling rivalry between the two hockey powers, Sawyer scored the third (also the game winning tally) and fifth goals for Canada, playing a pivotal role in the realization of a gold medal dream.
“Knowing I got the game winner was an incredible feeling! However, it was getting back to the bench afterward that felt the most exciting. That is because we had created such a supportive team culture in such a short amount of time that we were all so happy to be up in that game.”
Reflecting proudly with regards to ice hockey at the Maccabiah Games, the sense of history stood as a key pillar for Sawyer. To participate in the inaugural tournament, part of a celebrated roster that wore the Canadian colors, it provides dual impact. From a tremendous career touchstone to the treasured prospect of tournament immortality, contributing towards an exciting new chapter in the narrative of Canadian women’s ice hockey.
Equally significant in Sawyer’s journey involved the opportunity to contribute towards the golden path of glory. Beginning with a 24-0 triumph versus host nation Israel, Sawyer shone brilliantly with eight points.
“Being (part of) the first women’s ice hockey teams in the tournament was what made it the most special to me. Women’s hockey deserves so much more than it ever gets, in my opinion. So, finally having it in the Games and being the first team representing Canada was a feeling that will never be recreated.
Winning gold was another moment that I will remember forever. We worked so hard together as a team. I have never been on a team before where everyone genuinely and whole heartedly supported each other and I believe that that is why we came through with the gold!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”