Kelowna’s Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy is developing a reputation for developing young, world-class women’s hockey players.
“I would have to get you a list but I want to say that there has been over 15 (players) on the U18 team,” said coach Kris Hogg of the POE’s on-going contribution to Hockey Canada’s women’s program.
Last year, Hockey Canada tapped Hogg’s female prep team for four players to wear the maple leaf at the 2019 women’s world juniors in Japan, including Vernon’s very own Anne Cherkowski.
That team won gold in a dramatic 3-2 overtime thriller against perennial rival Team USA, a game that Cherkowski scored the goal to send the game into the extra frame.
This year, Hockey Canada has again named Anne Cherkowski to the U18 roster, along with fellow POE player Sarah Paul.
“We’re pretty proud,” Hogg said. “But really it’s the girls who put in the work.”
Cherkowski is no stranger to that work ethic; she knows exactly what it takes to be able to put on the maple leaf and represent Canada.
“Yeah, it was something I will never forget for the rest of my life,” Cherkowski said.
Last year, Cherkowski was one of four POE players selected to Team Canada.
Now a veteran with a gold medal around her neck, Cherkowski will be expected to lead this year’s team.
“The nerves are still there, I just know how to handle it now,” Cherkowski said.
One player who will look to Cherkowski for guidance along the way in Slovakia is West Kelowna’s Sarah Paul.
The 16-year-old Paul admits she’s pretty anxious about being chosen to represent the country.
Paul is happy to have Cherkowski along to show her the ropes.
“It’s obviously really nice to have a vet who has been through it all before, follow her leadership so to speak”
The two POE players will leave Wednesday for Slovakia.
Cherkowski and Paul will play an exhibition game before opening the tournament against Russia on Boxing day.