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ESSO Cup champion Ayden Kehrig celebrates memorable season

“It feels great knowing that I am a role model for so many young kids because I used to be one of those little girls watching the older AAA girls and wanting to be like them."

BJORKDALE  - The Regina Rebels outlasted the North York Storm in a 2-1 thriller to capture the 2024 Esso Cup title in Vernon, B.C. Ayden Kehrig of Bjorkdale, population 202, was able to be a part of this epic win on April 27.

Kehrig who is in Grade 10, just turned 16 on April 22. She has been playing hockey since she was just three years old. This last hockey season, she decided to head to Regina and play for the Regina Avana Rebels.

“I knew I was going to be a Rebel when I went to their camp last spring. At that point, I didn’t know what I wanted to do quite yet, but after that weekend it just felt right.”

Kehrig admits to being a bit nervous about moving to Regina as it was a lot different than her hometown of Bjorkdale. Once she got into her routine, she felt great and made some great friends and memories.

Other Northeast players were Kadence Dansereau from Birch Hills, who will also be playing in the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship in Grande Prairie, Alta., and Stryker Zablocki from Prince Albert. Zablocki who was the tournament’s Most Valuable Player with eight goals and three assists who was tied for most points.

Kehirg said her most memorable moment of the final game was when the clock was winding down. “Our whole team was jumping up in the bench and getting excited. It was very surreal.”

Kehrig plays defence on the Rebels but was not always a defenseman. She used to play center when she was younger. “Being televised on TSN was such a cool experience that doesn’t happen very often. It was nice to hear from family how proud they were watching me on TV, and just how excited the whole province was for our win.”

Her parents, Scott and Andrea Kehrig were able to make the trip to Vernon to watch the entire tournament and that final championship game.

Up next for Kehrig is the SaskFirst tournament team. They have various tryouts for girls aged 15-17 and anyone in the province can try out and the top prospects are chosen to represent Saskatchewan in a big tournament in November. Kehrig made it through the second cut, so she will have a chance to play in this tournament.

Kehrig’s long term goal is to play NCAA or USport for hockey and continue her education with a scholarship. “It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, which is why my grades are also just as important to me as hockey is.”

“It feels great knowing that I am a role model for so many young kids because I used to be one of those little girls watching the older AAA girls and wanting to be like them. Now that I am in that position, I want to make sure I am a good example for girls to look up to.”

Now back at home, she will finish the school year off. Kehrig said there are many people who have helped her along the way. “All of my coaches from over the years who taught me lots of hockey skills and knowledge and what it takes to get me into the AAA level. My coaches this year pushed us to strive to be the best. My teammates who made sure everyone came together to win for each other. And a huge thank you to my parents who had to drive me to everything, while also supporting me no matter what.”

Overall, Kehrig said the whole tournament was an amazing experience that not a lot of people will get to go through.

“I was so lucky to be a part of an amazing team that pushed through lots of tough times and showed a ton of resilience in order to win. It was our goal set from our first practice that we worked hard to accomplish. It still hasn’t really set in how huge that win was, and it was just crazy. I never would’ve thought I’d be playing on a national stage, televised on TV.”