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© Jeremy Fraser/Cape Breton Post

Rush ready for TELUS Cup

Backstopped by a veteran goaltender, the Sydney Rush will cross the country to serve as host team at Canada’s National Men’s U18 Club Championship

Chris Jurewicz
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May 6, 2022
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Sometimes the hardest situations to deal with are the ones that make us stronger.

Just ask Lucas Fraser.

The goaltender felt like he had a spot on the Sydney Rush in 2020-21, having spent the previous season with the Major U18 team. But a bad tryout led to Fraser eventually being cut from the club and spending most of the season with Cape Breton U16 Jets.

“That was a big learning year for me. Honestly, going down to [U16 AAA] was probably the best thing for me, even though at the time I didn’t think that,” Fraser says. “Going into that second year, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be there but, being a returnee, you get that feeling that you don’t have to show up and impress them. I ended up having some bad tryouts and I still didn’t agree with the decision, but I think they made the right decision. It really showed me that I need to get my mentality together for every game and every practice and treat every practice like a game. It really gave me a lot of motivation to go back and get better.”

And get better he did. Fraser faced a ton of shots during the 2020-21 campaign with the Jets and came back last fall to try and grab a goaltending spot on the 2021-22 edition of the Rush. This time, with a renewed focus, Fraser made the big club.

Rush general manager Walter Rutherford credits Fraser for not running from a tough situation, learning from it and coming back stronger.

“What a blow it was to him when he got cut,” says Rutherford. “He could have just folded up his tent and said ‘You know what, that’s good, I’ll go play high school hockey, never mind the high level, I’ll pack it in.’ But, to his credit, he went down and played in the lower level, U16, on one of the feeder teams for our team. He faced 45-50 shots a game and kept them in every single game and even won a few games. He dominated the league as far as goaltending goes. He comes back this year and he is one of our two goaltenders. It shows a great story of perseverance and hard work to get to where he wanted to be.”

Now, Fraser is part of a Rush team that is preparing to compete for a national championship.

The Rush are host team for the 2022 TELUS Cup, the first time Canada’s National Men’s U18 Club Championship will be held since 2019. The Rush were originally awarded the 2021 TELUS Cup, but that event was cancelled (as was the 2020 tournament) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s event will be held in Okotoks, Alta., just south of Calgary – 5,000 km from the Rush’s homebase in Cape Breton. Earlier this season, as the Omicron variant was making its way through Canadian communities, Hockey Canada and the host committee of the TELUS Cup made the decision that the event would go ahead but it would be held at a neutral site. Given the time and financial commitment host committees put into national championships, the decision was made partly to ensure Sydney wouldn’t face a potential massive financial liability if it were to host the event with no fans allowed in the arena.

Hockey Canada kept a spot in the tournament for the Rush as host team and also announced that Cape Breton will host a future edition of the TELUS Cup.

“With all the adversity, I don’t think it could have come out any better,” Rutherford says. “Plan A was for our team to play against other teams in the country in our home arena with 1,000 people in the arena. That didn’t work out. So, these kids are going to get to play for a national championship, albeit not in their home arena, but they’re going to be able to participate in an absolute world-class event, something that they’ll never forget.”

The 2022 TELUS Cup, featuring the Rush and five regional champions from across Canada, kicks off on May 16 and runs until Championship Sunday on May 22.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

emadziya@hockeycanada.ca 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

ssharkey@hockeycanada.ca

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

jknight@hockeycanada.ca

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