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Barrie’s Barn Burner hockey game using female star power


With less than a month to go, a major charity hockey game in Simcoe County unveils more star power.

On August 7, Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall will once again be spearheading the annual Boots and Hearts Burn Burner Charity Hockey Game. The event draws out hundreds to the Sadlon Arena, giving them a chance to see some of hockey’s biggest names here at home.

This year’s game will feature some talented players from the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL). It’s the first time the event has been held since the league’s inaugural season, which captivated audiences nationwide.

One of the players lending her talents to the charitable effort is Jessie Eldridge, a Barrie native who was drafted into the PWHL’s Team New York.

“It’s been an absolute whirlwind, to say the least,” Eldridge says of the first season, whose team finished last place this year. “I think we had hoped that our league would take off, but I don’t think anyone’s that to the magnitude it has.”

Eldridge has long aspired to play the game professionally. However, she points to the challenge of growing up when there was no real option for Canadian Women, saying many would join leagues in their off hours just to get the thrill.

“It’s 9 p.m.; we get the last slot of the day and try to consider that as a professional athlete,” said Eldridge. “It was a little tough.”

Now one of the first women to ever play in the PWHL, Eldridge doesn’t take her platform for granted and knows it provides hope to a younger generation of future players.

“We’re really happy with where everything’s at and being able to live our dream job every single day,” said Eldridge. “But [we’re] also in a push for more for future generations.”

Other female players joining Eldridge this year include:

Ann-Renee Desbiens - Team Montreal

Jill Saulnier – Team New York

Laura Stacey – Team Montreal

Marie-Philip Poulin – Team Montreal

“It’s a beautiful thing. All of these professional players are incredibly skilled coming out, inspiration to our young female players to be able to ensure that they have those role models,” said Nuttall.

While she is training hard for the second season of the PWHL, Eldridge says participating in charity games, especially one in her hometown, provides an opportunity to connect with fans in a different way.

“Being back and just showing them it’s possible we are just regular people at the end of the day,” Eldridge says. “So getting to know them and sharing our dreams and passions with them is really big.”

The rising hockey star certainly has locked up support here at home, says the mayor.

“It’s a huge thing for us, and we should be incredibly proud of Jessie and all of the efforts that she’s put to raising money here in this community and being an incredible role model for young ladies across the country,” said Nuttall.

For more information, including how to purchase tickets and where the funds go, click here. Top Stories

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