As the first pick overall in the 2015 CWHL Draft, Sarah Edney has proven to be an ideal fit with the Brampton Thunder’s blueline corps. With a sterling hockey resume that includes competition in the Canada Winter Games, IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds and the NCAA Frozen Four, part of her experience during her inaugural season in the CWHL has included the chance to add another proud achievement by competing in the second ever All-Star Game.
Considering that the early months of the New Year represent All-Star events for basketball, hockey and football, there was a unique connection for Edney. Among the athletes participating in the numerous All-Star events, only one other first overall pick competed among their peers in such a celebrated showcase. Said pick was quarterback Jameis Winston, selected first overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, ambitiously making his mark in the Pro Bowl.
Gracing the ice at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, also the site of the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, Edney was one of seven Brampton skaters that participated in the event. Recruited to be a part of Team White, Edney was joined by the likes of fellow teammates including Courtney Birchard, Jocelyne Larocque, Jamie-Lee Rattray and Candice Styles. Despite such a rare occasion where teammates such as Laura Fortino and Jess Jones transformed into rivals, she showed great maturity by displaying a willingness to learn, listening to the wisdom of her more experienced teammates, keenly absorbing the magic of such a jovial time, truly living in the moment.
“The best piece of advice that I got from my teammates was to enjoy the experience. That was the most prominent message relayed to us before the game and at the banquet the night before.
Like any unique opportunity that I have ever been able to experience it went quickly and I soaked it in as much as I could throughout the day. All of my teammates except for two were actually on my team, but we mostly exchanged jokes during the game, even an offer to drop the gloves. Overall, it was just an enjoyable experience.”
Ranking second in goals scored among Thunder blueliners, Edney is also among the roster’s top ten leading scorers. Having accumulated less than 10 penalty minutes, she has also shown strong discipline. Logging her first career CWHL points (a pair of assists) in an October 25 home game against the Toronto Furies, which saw the Thunder prevail by a convincing 6-3 tally. Edney’s first goal would come in grand fashion on November 22, as said goal stood as the game winner in a 3-0 blanking of the Boston Blades.
Raised in Mississauga, Edney had grown up watching the Toronto Maple Leafs during their earliest years at the Air Canada Centre. The chance to now play on the same frozen surface as the local hockey heroes of her youth proved to be a gratifying and rewarding experience. Adding to the jubilation of this personal and career milestone for the former recipient of the Mississauga Female High School Athlete of the Year included some other cherished elements.
From the outset, several members of her family were in the stands, sharing in the emotion of such a proud moment. In addition, a large majority of fans that filled the seats in the ACC’s lower bowl were composed mostly of youth teams. While today’s youngsters can still admire the on-ice efforts of the modern Maple Leafs (who are also a CWHL partner), it only adds to the experience when there is an equal opportunity to have a group of exceptional women to look up as well, a role that Edney is proud of.
“It was my first time on the ice at the Air Canada Centre and I have been to a few games there since I was younger, but it just seemed different. I am not sure if it felt bigger or what, but the crowd was loud, there was a lot of positive energy, and it was so bright. My whole family was there, including my mom, dad, grandma, uncle, a few family friends, and a bunch of girls that I have helped coach over the years.”
Taking into account that the majority of the players have competed at the university level, there is also a chance to reunite with fellow alumnae, who become a second family for players over four formative years. Having played her university hockey for the prestigious Harvard program, which would result in Edney becoming the first Crimson to be taken first overall in the CWHL Draft, she was joined on the ice by fellow Crimson stars such as Team Black captain Julie Chu and goaltender Christina Kessler, who would be credited with the win.
Players such as Chu and Kessler were only part of a bigger cast of stars, upon which Edney was excited to take to the ice with. Customarily, any sporting All-Star Game features the novelty whereby one calls a rival and/or superstar from another club as a teammate for one day, a real-life dream team. Edney definitely relished such an opportunity, as there was no shortage of elite talent donning the Team White jersey on this special day.
Among such talent, Edney enjoyed the chance to play alongside Team White captain Natalie Spooner. As a side note, Spooner actually holds a unique connection to the Thunder. In March 2015, Spooner was joined by Furies teammate Kelly Terry both skating in one game for the Brampton Thunder. This Furies duo suited up in a contest that saw the Thunder host a group of NHL Alumni coached by world-famous hockey dad Walter Gretzky.
In the days following the All-Star Game, Edney and Spooner were among a group of players at Hockey Canada’s training and evaluation camp, as nations prepare to assemble rosters for the upcoming 2016 IIHF Women’s Worlds. As that event shall also take place on Canadian soil, should Edney have the opportunity to call Spooner teammate once again, it shall be with golden aspirations. For now, the treasured occasion to shine in a spectacular showcase at Air Canada Centre represented a seminal moment for Edney, one she proudly shared with one of the faces of the league,
“I was excited to call Spooner my teammate for the day because that meant she was not skating towards me this time! I just got to send her the other way against their team’s defence and not have to worry about her speed.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Jess Bazal