Chilliwack’s Aynsley D’Ottavio, Hannah Dods play in Vermont Labour Day hockey tournament

The Fraser Valley Rush were one of the first Canadian teams to travel to the US during the pandemic

A pair of Chilliwack female hockey stars traveled to Vermont and played in front of 100-plus college recruiters in the North American Hockey Academy Labour Day Tournament.

Hannah Dods is a 2006-born forward and Aynsley D’Ottavio is a 2005-born defender, both playing for the U18 AAA Fraser Valley Rush.

The tourney they played in has been held annually in Burlington, VT for the last 21 years and this year the Rush finished third in a field of 24 teams.

The trip was memorable for many reasons, not least of which the travel.

Getting across the border has been an adventure during COVID and the Rush were the first Hockey Canada non-national, non-professional team to be approved to cross the border for a tournament. They flew to Vermont on a meandering route that took them to San Diego (California), then Dulles (Virginia), then on to their destination.

On the way home, they crossed back into Quebec by bus, only the second bus to come through since the pandemic began.

From there, it was a Montreal-to-Vancouver flight.

RELATED: Chilliwack’s Aynsley D’Ottavio among 21 Canada wide chosen for Rising Teammates program

RELATED: Chilliwack’s Aynsley D’Ottavio invited to BC Hockey camp

“Definitely not as easy as normal times for sure,” Dods said. “Our team had to fill out a stack of paper work and bring it with us just to cross the border, and the booking of travel COVID tests and waiting to see if you were negative felt like an eternity.”

“The only downside was the 16 hours travel time and the two layovers it took to get there,” D’Ottavio added. “Other than having to wear a mask, and the added cost to provide a negative COVID test prior to leaving Canada and the US, things went relatively smoothly.”

Getting across the Canada-United State border into Quebec was a long process for Chilliwack’s Hannah Dods and Aynsley D’Ottavio and other members of the U18 AAA Fraser Valley Rush female hockey team.

Whatever headaches there were were worth the trouble for both girls, who’ve been so desperate to play games.

While Dods said the last practice-filled year has given her more skill development than she’s had at any other point in her life, and D’Ottavio said the many practices, skill sessions and workouts were great, something was missing.

“It was very rewarding knowing you’re constantly practicing and getting better, but I was missing having games and the competition,” Dods said. “While playing in Vermont I had no idea what to expect from all of these different teams. I was constantly excited and was finding it hard to believe where I was and how cool the experience was.

“I really want to thank my coach, Tony Lindsay, and manager, Alain Wozney, for having me be a part of the team and making the Vermont tournament happen.”

Getting from Vancouver to Vermont involved two stop-overs and 16 hours travel time for Chilliwack’s Hannah Dods and Aynsley D’Ottavio and other members of the U18 AAA Fraser Valley Rush female hockey team.

Playing in front of so many college scouts was a bonus for the teenagers, particularly D’Ottavio, who is a year older and working hard to secure a college commitment.

“It was a great experience and opportunity that otherwise would not have been available to me had this trip not happened,” she said. “For me, I know I was especially excited because playing hockey competitively at the university level is hopefully the next step in my hockey journey.”

“Knowing that some of the girls on my team, including Aynsley, got talked to by various colleges was very inspirational,” Dods added.

Not home for long, the Rush are in Calgary this week for the U18 AAA Firestarter Weekend tourney, running Sept. 16-19 at the Great Plains Arena.

“It should be very exciting as the teams there will be even better competition for our team and will push us to be our best in front of even more college recruiters,” D’Ottavio said.

@ProgressSportseric.welsh@theprogress.comLike us on

Chilliwack Progress


Chilliwack’s Aynsley D’Ottavio had an opportunity to show her skills in front of 100-plus college player personnel people, playing for the U18 AAA Fraser Valley Rush in the 21st annual North American Hockey Academy Labour Day Tournament. (FV Rush photo)