Nova Scotia’s silver will have ‘lasting impact’ on women’s hockey

Image: Head coach Kori Cheverie congratulates captain Samantha Morrison after Nova Scotia won silver at Canada Games. (Len Wagg / Communications Nova Scotia)

Kori Cheverie has helped guide Canada to three world titles and Olympic gold in women’s hockey, but she says coaching Nova Scotia to a historic finish at the Canada Games ranks right up there with those experiences.

“It will be one of my favourite hockey memories that I will cherish forever,” says Cheverie, a New Glasgow native and assistant coach with Canada’s national women’s team.

A resilient Nova Scotia women’s team rode the outstanding goaltending of Rhyah Stewart and a disciplined style to silver.

Nova Scotia earned a dramatic 3-2 overtime win over Saskatchewan in the quarter-finals to become the talk of the tournament and attract attention from hockey fans across the country.

Not finished yet, Nova Scotia got 49 saves from Stewart and patiently stuck to its game plan in knocking off an Ontario team loaded with national program players 3-2 in Saturday’s semifinal. 

Some referred to the upset as the “Miracle at MacLauchlan Arena.”

British Columbia prevailed 3-0 in Sunday’s final, but history had already been made.

Nova Scotia’s best previous finish was fifth at the 2003 Games when Cheverie was a player.

“When it comes to your province, and having participated in the ’03 Canada Games, it hits differently,” Cheverie says. “It’s a little bit surreal and it’s special because it’s on that smaller scale and it’s closer to home and people are very, very passionate about it and you see it. There are tons of people who cheer for the women’s Canadian team who I’ll never know, never talk to, never cross paths with. 

“When it’s your province, the amount of support you experience, it’s something that is truly unbelievable.”

Cheverie says she had high expectations for this group when it started working together in November.

The coaching staff was deliberate in pushing the team to challenge the status quo and set a best-ever finish as a goal. The team saw a path to the quarter-finals if it could manage wins against Alberta and Manitoba in pool play. That’s the way it played out.

Ontario, which finished first in the pool, outscored opponents 35-2 before losing to Nova Scotia in the semis.

Cheverie says she believes Nova Scotia rising to silver will have a “lasting impact” and push all provinces to continue to invest in women’s hockey.

“I think an event like this and the way that we finished just goes to show you that we can’t count anybody out,” says Cheverie, also the head coach of Team Harvey’s of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association. “We should be looking to develop all of the provinces and continue to push and not just settle for, well, it’s always been this way so that’s the way it’s always going to be. Yeah, the Maritimes always finishes six, seven, eight, nine, 10, but why does it always have to be that way? Why can’t we do better?

“I think this is going to open some eyes and turn some heads as to, hey, how can we set a new standard for women’s hockey?”

Cheverie is now off to California for the PWHPA’s season championship weekend.

All four of the league’s teams will gather for games in Irvine, El Segundo and Palm Desert, California, to compete for the 2023 Secret® Cup. Action starts Friday.

Then the national women’s team regroups at the end of the month to take a run at another world championship.

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