Today’s Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games coverage is presented by the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund to support local sports journalism.
In collaboration with the Ottawa Community Foundation and the OCH Foundation for Healthy Communities, the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund was created to help our publication overcome the challenging realities of the media industry.
We launched the Fund at the Ottawa Sports Pages’ 10th Anniversary celebrations to provide our readers with the opportunity to help ensure that we can continue to spotlight all the local sports community’s great stories and accomplishments.
As we reach the final day of our Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games series, we’d like you to consider how much coverage you’ve seen in other media outlets on our local athletes’ amazing achievements at PEI 2023?
We’re pretty proud to have shared 17 daily recaps throughout the Games, plus another 10 pre-Games participant profiles. It’s humbling and motivating when the young athletes we feature thank US for interviewing them, instead of vice versa.
The Ottawa Sports Pages’ mission is to shine a light on local sport. We love the big Games of course, but we tell stories from high school, university, community and elite amateur sport 365 – the levels that are almost always neglected by the mainstream media. Your contributions will aid those efforts and help ensure there’s a sustainable independent media voice for local sport.
We are a small group at the Ottawa Sports Pages, so your tax-deductible charitable donations do make an especially large impact, and even better, they are matched dollar-for-dollar through the Ottawa Community Foundation’s Journalism Endowment Matching Program.
Thank you very much for reading along and for your support of our organization and our local athletes! We hope you’ve enjoyed our Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games coverage these past few weeks, it’s been such a pleasure for our team to share the stories of our rising Ottawa athletes competing on this big stage.
Speaking of which… let’s get on with the show!
Final Day Recap: Female hockey team rallies for bronze following semi-final shocker
By Dan Plouffe
Hardly 12 hours after being on the wrong side of the upset of the Games, the Ontario female hockey team dusted itself off, got back to business, and claimed a spot on the PEI 2023 podium with a solid 3-1 victory over Quebec in the bronze medal match.
“We were really happy to get that bronze,” signalled Ottawa forward Ashley Allard. “We have a really special team here and it was awesome to share that moment with all of them.”
Barrhaven’s Mackenzie Clarke, an Ottawa Lady Senators defender, assisted on what stood as the winning goal. Ontario scored all of its goals in the middle period to build a 3-0 lead before Quebec got one on the board five minutes into the third. Ontario recorded 44 shots on goal in total, which was actually a tournament-low for Team O.
The previous night, they fired 51 shots at Nova Scotia, but it was their opponents who cashed in on their big chances and stunned Ontario/the whole country with a 3-2 triumph. Ontario had beaten Nova Scotia 6-0 in the teams’ preliminary round meeting – part of their 35-2 goal differential leading into the semi-final.
“[Saturday] wasn’t the result we wanted, but I thought we did have a good effort,” highlighted Allard. “It just reminded us that we have to be ready for every shift at all times and every play.
“Obviously [Saturday] night’s game didn’t quite go our way, but this team is great. We came out to play [Sunday] and it’s nice to get the bronze as a reward.”
Also part of the effort was Allard’s Nepean Wildcats club teammate Naomi Baechler, who played half the games in the Team Ontario net. The bronze medal win returned Ontario to the female hockey podium after finishing fourth at the 2019 Canada Games and missing the medals for just the second time ever. Quebec beat that incarnation of Team Ontario in the semi-finals.
“We had a great time here,” underlined Allard, an All Saints Catholic High School senior who will join the University of Connecticut Huskies next. “All the bonding was great, I’m going back with a lot of new friends. And [winning a medal] was a great way to cap off the weekend.”
Male hockey team’s OT triumph the most iconic moment of PEI 2023
The female hockey trio were the last local athletes in action at PEI 2023. Their bronze brought Ottawa’s final medal count from the Canada Games up to 13, with 3 gold, 8 silver and 2 bronze in total. Ontario finished second in the overall medal count and the Canada Games flag points standings behind Quebec.
The list of local medallists included:
Cléante Théorêt (gymnastics) – gold, 2 silver
Matthew Freitag (speed skating) – 2 silver
Iman Shaheen (squash) – silver, bronze
Luka McKinlay (alpine skiing) – 2 bronze
Durvishan Thananchayan (archery) – gold
James Budrow (alpine skiing) – silver
Alex Don (trampoline) – silver
Rachel Mallard (speed skating) – silver
Ashley Allard, Naomi Baechler & Mackenzie Clarke (female hockey) – bronze
You can look back on our coverage of all those great moments on our Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games central webpage at OttawaSportsPages.ca/Ottawa-at-the-2023-Canada-Winter-Games/.
Also worth a look is the Canada Games Council’s video recap of the two weeks in PEI. Yep, front and centre in the cover image looking back at the most iconic moments of the Games are some Ottawa hockey players celebrating their marathon overtime victory in the gold medal final:
Ottawa volunteers contribute to Island spirit at PEI 2023
We’ve focused most of our attention on our local team of nearly 50 athletes who competed in the Canada Winter Games, but there were piles of staff and volunteers from Ottawa who helped make the Canada Games churn behind the scenes.
That includes a couple of Kanata families who shared remarkably similar (but completely independent) paths to become part of the PEI 2023 army of 5,000 volunteers (which is about 3% of the Island’s population).
Four-time world-champion curler Craig Savill served as event co-ordinator for men’s, women’s and mixed curling. The 44-year-old was responsible for having everything in place (i.e. timers, scorekeepers, officials, etc.) for the matches. His Games schedule also included providing commentary during live-streaming broadcasts of several curling playoff matches.
The voice of Savill’s wife Karen Cumberland, who is originally from PEI, could also be heard as an announcer at the artistic gymnastics competitions. Their two children were thrilled with their parents’ assignments as 12-year-old Aiden enjoys curling as well as golf and flag football, while nine-year-old Elsa has interests in gymnastics and soccer.
“We wanted to [become Games volunteers],” Savill told High Achievers columnist Martin Cleary before the start of the Feb. 18-Mar. 5 event. “It’s good to give back to all the volunteers who helped me. There are so many people who have helped to put on this event. It certainly was an easy decision.”
The Savill family relocated to Kensington, PEI during the pandemic and quickly jumped in to help on the PEI sports scene with the Games on the horizon.
About five minutes down the road from the Savills is Sharon Jollimore’s family, who also moved to PEI part way through COVID. Jollimore was also born and raised on the Island before she spent almost 25 years working in sport and recreation in the nation’s capital, most recently with the Ottawa Community Housing Foundation and its recLINK program.
They didn’t know it then, but the two families actually lived about five minutes apart from each other in Bridlewood for years. Now Jollimore manages the Prince Edward Island Alliance for Mental Well-Being’s grant program under Cumberland, the organization’s executive director.
“We had a great two weeks. It was awesome,” reported Jollimore in conversation with the Ottawa Sports Pages’ Dan Plouffe on the final day of the Games. “We got to interact with so many people. It was really cool.”
Jollimore and her 16-year-old son Samuel volunteered as ushers and ticket scanners at UPEI for wheelchair basketball, badminton and hockey competitions. They loved getting to see Samuel’s childhood playmate Kate Babineau play ringette for Team Ontario.
“We knew she was a good little player, but seeing her come up to PEI and to be able to watch her was pretty sweet,” Jollimore indicated.
Many athletes the Sports Pages interviewed during the Games made special mention of how welcoming the volunteers and officials and everyone on the Island were. High-level sport was the reason they were there, but many of the lasting memories from the national youth multi-sport event will stem from experiences away from competition.
“Pin trading is a really big thing here,” highlighted Ottawa cross-country skier Robin Mason. “The complexity and the level of pins they have here is funny honestly. All the provinces have put so much effort into them. They have snow globes, they have others that slip up and you put them together like puzzle pieces.
“It’s fun trying to collect them all, and it’s a great way to socialize and meet people from the other provinces and territories.”
Jollimore had a particularly poignant experience with pins while she took in the Miracle at MacLauchlan (Nova Scotia’s mammoth semi-final upset over the Ontario female hockey team) after her final shift of the Games alongside some other volunteers.
Since they’ve got a smaller team at the Games, Nunavut’s pins are about the equivalent of gold medals in the pin-trading quest. But members of the Nunavut delegation came up to Jollimore’s group and dished out a pile to them without asking for anything in return.
“I was talking to one of the gentlemen later, I’m not sure if he was a coach or an official or what, but he said the hospitality and the commitment of the volunteers on PEI was just second to none” and they wanted to thank them for their efforts, Jollimore recounted. “He said [the volunteers] did whatever needed to be done and that there was just something about the genuine kindness of people on the Island.
“That was really nice to hear and I think it’s a real big source of pride for us, being such a small population in PEI.
“You know, 5,000 people of that small population gave up two weeks of their time to really make these Games happen. And not just in the big town centers like Charlottetown and Summerside, some people were traveling from one tip of the Island to the other.
“Chatting with some of the other volunteers and hearing some of the stories about kids coming up and thanking us for volunteering, and passing us pins, it was really nice.”
That’s all folks!
And with that, the Ottawa Sports Pages is officially signing off on our Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games coverage. Our reporting team of Dan Plouffe, Mark Colley and Martin Cleary has thoroughly enjoyed following Team Ottawa over the past few weeks, and we’re looking forward to watching these young athletes’ next steps in the sports world in the years to come.
Thank you again for joining us and for your support of local sport!
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