Amy and Sarah Potomak of Aldergrove both found out on the same day that they will play hockey for Canada in a pair of exhibition games against the U.S. team.
Melody Davidson, general manager of the national women’s team for Hockey Canada, sprung the news on 17-year-old Amy in Regina in November.
Amy had just helped B.C. to a bronze farmer at the women’s Under-18 nationals, taking most valuable player honours in the process.
Potomak then heard that she would make her senior national team debut as part of a two-game exhibition series, alongside her sister Sarah, a forward who turns 19 later in December and is currently a sophomore at the University of Minnesota.
Sarah had just received an email telling her she was on the team.
“I didn’t say a whole lot and I’m pretty sure whatever I said didn’t make a lot of sense,” recalled Amy. “It’s great to have the chance to put on the Canada jersey, but to be able to do it with my sister takes it to a whole other level.”
“We haven’t played together in awhile. We’ve never played together in Canada jerseys. It’s beyond cool,” said Amy.
“This has been our goal since we were little kids,” said Sarah.
The pair, whose four older brothers all played competitively growing up, are the first sisters to line up together for Canada’s top side.
Sarah became the second B.C. player ever to suit up for the senior women when she took part in the 2015 Four Nations Cup in Sweden. Goaltender Danielle Dube had been the initial one, her run coming to an end in 2002.
Sarah was one of the last cuts from the Canadian team that took part in the worlds last spring in Kamloops.
They’re joined on the Canadian team for the two-game series by a third B.C. product, Micah Hart, 19, a rearguard from Saanichton who’s playing at Cornell University.
Hart is a product of the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton. The Potomaks played for the rival Pursuit of Excellence in Kelowna. They were linemates there on occasion. They also suited up together on other teams, like B.C.’s entry in the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George.
Sarah, who’s listed at 5-foot-5 and 140 pounds, is a fancy, slick type. Amy, who comes in at 5-foot-8 and 148 pounds, has more power. They like to explain that by saying they try to play like Canadian veterans Marie-Philip Poulin and Natalie Spooner, respectively.
Oddly enough, the Potomaks will be teammates with the pair later this month.
“I’ll be taking notes,” Amy admitted.
“We’ve been dreaming about this for a really long time,” said Amy. “It started when we were playing ball hockey together, just the two of us. Now we could be getting a chance to use the plays we made up then.”
Sarah, the NCAA rookie of the year last season, scored the winner in a 3-2 overtime triumph over the Wisconsin Badgers in the national semifinal last March and then had a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win over the Boston College Eagles in the championship finale. She was later named NCAA Frozen Four most outstanding player.
She had 15 goals and 39 assists in 38 games last season with Minnesota. Through 18 games this season, she had 11 goals and 16 assists.
A boys B.C. Major Midget team is doing their part to support women’s hockey in this country.
The Valley West Hawks had Meghan Agosta, 29, the longtime national team star centre from Ontario who now calls the Lower Mainland home after joining the Vancouver Police Department, practise with them last season in preparation for the women’s worlds in Kamloops.
This season, the Hawks have signed up-and-coming forward Amy as an affiliate player, as she prepares to join older sister Sarah at the University of Minnesota next fall.
“Her hockey sense is higher than most of our players,” Valley West general manager Rob Evers said of Potomak.
Evers also said that Agosta is expected to skate with Valley West in workouts again over the coming weeks.
“It will be a great chance for Amy to get some mentorship,” Evers said.
Valley West are the reigning league champions.