B.C. hockey player Sarah Potomak busy playing, coaching and promoting the game
LANGLEY, B.C. -- An early morning hockey practice at Langley’s Sportsplex is peppered with sounds. Pucks hitting the boards, whistles starting drills and Sarah Potomak skating hard chasing the play.
Hockey is a big part of Potomak’s life. She’s an elite player who has been part of the Team Canada program for years.
“My dream is to play in the Olympics,” said Potomak.
After being cut from the 2018 Canadian Olympic Women’s National Team, Potomak is on a journey to get back to representing her country at 2022 games.
“I’m ready to be that player for Team Canada and make an impact on that team,” she told CTV News Vancouver. “That is my focus and hopefully that is what happens.”
She was on the ice last month in Calgary for Team Canada’s training camp.
“We were in a bubble,” she said. “Camp went amazing we were able to play games with tons of practices, a really good experience.”
Hockey Canada assembled 35 of the nation’s best players to compete for a spot on the roster, but Potomak says the team won’t be decided until there is a firm date for the World Championships.
For now, she’s back home in Aldergrove starting yet another chapter in her hockey career.
“She is a great player, but she’s also a great person,” said Jean LaForest, head coach for the women’s program at the Trinity Western University Spartans, who recently hired the 23-year-old Potomak to be his assistant coach.
“Walking into a coaching role, I think that has made her a better player, because she sees the game differently,” said LaForest. “Coaching and instructing is different than playing. It gives her a real broad spectrum as a player.”
It’s been a difficult year for collegiate hockey as COVID-19 restrictions continue in B.C., allowing only practices and no games.
“We are making the best of it every time we are on the ice,” LaForest told CTV News. “We’ve talked about developing skill, making sure we are moving forward as a program.”
“We’ve taken our game up a few notches and the girls have improved so much,” added Potomak. “To being able to use this ice, (do) strength and conditioning on the ice and develop, that was our focus, so we are definitely ready to go come September.”
A feisty forward, Potomak had a successful collegiate career for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.
“It was so fun to play there. We won a National Championship in my freshman year, 2016,” she said.
Hockey runs in the Potomak family. Sarah grew up with four brothers and a younger sister, Amy, who eventually joined her at the University of Minnesota.
“We played together for 2 years,” Sarah Potomak said. “Being able to play with her and live with her was a dream come true … To be able to do it together was really special. We are best friends.”
Now, Potomak has her sights set on a newly formed league called Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association. Composed of the best women's hockey players from around the world, including Olympic medalists, world champions, veteran professionals, and recent college graduates.
“We are hoping to have a league in the next couple of years,” she said. “It’s going to be pretty cool with five regions, three in Canada and two in the U.S.”
Potomak continues to be dedicated to the game of hockey, but has a few more goals in mind. One is to be a part of an Olympic team and the other is to promote and grow the sport she loves.
“The more that we can promote the game, the more it's going to continue to grow and the more girls can see us on TV, then they can dream to be us to,” she said.