Among the unique facets that defined Canada’s gold medal championship team at the 2019 ISBHF World Championships in Kosice, Slovakia involved a strong sense of Atlantic pride. Starting with head coach Steve Power, a native of St. John’s, Newfoundland, the Atlantic presence on Team Canada also included three competitors from “The Rock”, Kristen Cooze, Aprill Drake and Dawn Tulk, along with a pair of New Brunswick stars, Grand Bay’s Jessie McCann and Danielle Ring from Saint John.
The only Canadian player named to the Tournament All-Star Team, Jessie McCann provided an important presence on Canada’s gold medal winning team. Having last played for Canada at the 2015 ISBHF Worlds in Zug, Switzerland, another golden outcome, the privilege of returning to the international stage four years later marked a tremendous personal and athletic achievement for a jubilant McCann.
“It being my second time there I found I really took everything in, the city, the culture, the fans. Walking to rink instead of taking a cab, the little things I did not do the first time around. It was a crazy feeling to be a repeat World Champion but the biggest difference was being there with my best friend, Danielle Ring.”
Both originally named to Canada’s roster competing at the 2017 ISBHF World Championships, neither was able to attend as it marked a personal milestone for McCann. With her wedding coinciding with the Worlds, Ring stood beside her, a true display of teamwork, testament to their friendship.
In that same year, both managed to appear for Team New Brunswick (NB) at the CBHA Nationals, qualifying for the bronze medal game versus the Ottawa Capitals. Worth noting, McCann finished tied with Devon Skeats and Jessie Hurrell for third in preliminary round scoring, leading Team NB with seven points. Ring would also make her presence felt, leading all scorers with three assists during the elimination round, landing a spot as a Tournament All-Star, respectively.
Additionally, such a fantastic friendship, which has defined their personal and athletic lives has also included serving as teammates on the ice. Having both skated in U SPORTS Atlantic University Sport ice hockey for the St. Thomas University Tommies, McCann, a member of the Class of 2017, while Ring, who graduated in 2020, played alongside the likes of Kelty Apperson, who would eventually play for the CWHL’s Calgary Inferno, along with record-setting goaltender Abby Clarke. Undeniably, the chance to become teammates internationally in Canada’s paraphernalia marked another proud pinnacle, one that has already seen them intersect in major life moments,
“Danielle and I are more than friends—she is my sister. We have been through every major life step together. She was the best man in my wedding, she was at the hospital the day my son was born, watched him take his first steps. The experience with her made it that much more sweet. I will never forget jumping off the bench with her at the end of the gold medal game. I cried.”
Although Slovakia served in the capacity of host country, they are also one of Canada’s biggest rivals, the decade of the 2010s began with the two clashing for the gold medal. With the Slovakians boasting one of the strongest fan bases for ball hockey, always in the conversation for a podium finish, the atmosphere was nothing short of electric.
Renewing rivalries during a June 21 tilt, one which saw rookie goaltender Julianna Thomson of Winnipeg log 12 saves for Canada, McCann assisted on a goal by Kristen Cooze. Additionally, Margaux Sharp would record the game-winning goal, defeating the host nation in a 2-0 shutout, a key win in Canada’s quest for gold.
“Oh man! It was CRAZY in the rinks. Those fans are very committed to the sport! Playing them was definitely one of the loudest ball hockey games I have taken part of. Their fans had signs, noise makers, drums, chants, the whole works!”
Displaying strong playmaking proficiency, contributing in key moments and crucial victories, McCann’s run to the gold medal was defined by more than an exceptional consistency. Rising to the occasion in a pair of contests against the United States, those performances were likely critical as McCann landed a place on the Tournament All-Stars.
First challenging the United States in preliminary round play, the contest certainly had the tinge of high stakes for the Canadian contingent. Having suffered their first-ever loss to the US two years prior, said loss was one that prevented Canada from playing for the gold medal, an unprecedented event in the budding rivalry between the two nations.
With the possibility that the two would collide later in the medal round, the match in the preliminary round definitely brought with it a playoff atmosphere. Scoring twice in a thrilling 2-0 victory, McCann provided one of Canada’s most inspiring performances in Kosice. Setting the tone for Canada in the remainder of the tournament, it proved to be her finest hour.
As the gold medal game marked a rematch between Canada and the US, McCann was not the only hero in a 4-2 final. Edie Brenning, appearing in her first ISBHF tournament for Canada, led the way with a pair of goals, including the game-winning tally, while Elysia Desmier and Cooze added their names to the scoresheet. Of note, McCann earned an assist on Cooze’s goal, the fourth of the game.
The assist certainly marked an element of serendipity, as the collaboration of McCann and Cooze added another unique chapter to the growing lore of ball hockey in Atlantic Canada. Although the two provinces have been rivals in CBHA competition, the opportunity for their respective stars to shine while wearing the Maple Leaf represents a shared point of pride. Certainly, the Atlantic connection was one that brought McCann a tremendous highlight in Kosice, finding admiration in the tremendous trio of Newfoundlanders that graced the slab in a golden outcome,
“Those girls are amazing—they really love the sport. Not to mention they are hilarious, great leaders and all three are very skilled athletes.”
”All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”