London star shines in Sarnia

KATHY RUMLESKI -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

SARNIA -- It was an "I've arrived" moment for Allison Edgar.

Sometime between stepping onto the shining ice at the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre -- where she played as a youngster -- and the singing of O Canada, Edgar felt the excitement surge.

She was the star of the show.

"It's great to see a local girl. She's accomplished a lot," said Pat Brethauer, who operates a Sarnia sports website.

Brethauer was at an elementary school yesterday speaking about the women's national hockey championship and says the kids were excited about Edgar.

There are bigger names here -- Cheryl Pounder and Angela Ruggiero, to name a few -- but Edgar is the hometown girl who made good.

"There's not much higher than this," the Brigden native said following her Toronto Aeros' 4-2 loss to Quebec yesterday.

"I thought it was nice that people could see me play the best players in the game. These are some of the world's best players."

Her Aeros teammates-- who went to Brigden on Wednesday for supper at her parents' home -- include Olympic gold-medallists Jennifer Botterill and Pounder.

During her minor hockey days in Petrolia and into her time with the Sarnia Starfires and Bluewater Hawks, the 23-year-old idolized members of the national team such as Olympian Vicky Sunohara, a 15-year veteran.

She still finds it hard to believe that she's competing in this tournament against Sunohara, who is playing for Ontario.

"It definitely brings up my game."

Edgar, an Aeros rookie who plays defence, assisted on both of her team's goals yesterday. She believes she is playing the best hockey of her career but doesn't know how much longer she'll be able to keep going.

She's followed up four years at the University of New Hampshire, which she attended on a scholarship, with medical school in Toronto.

It's a tough haul. She carried a stack of books with her to the arena.

"Every year, I'll have to make a decision about playing."

Edgar's dedication to her sport impressed Fran Rider, the executive director of the Ontario Women's Hockey Association. Rider also believed Edgar is the player the fans -- about 4,650 throughout the day -- want to see do well.

"She's juggling her education, playing for the Aeros. She's quite an amazing person. She's a great role model for this area.

Ruggiero knows how hard it is to play elite-level hockey while attending school or holding down a job.

Quebec's player of the game yesterday with two goals, Ruggiero quit her job in commercial real estate in Boston to prepare to play for the U.S. in next month's world championship in Sweden and in the 2006 Turin Olympics.

"I tried working this year full time," said Ruggiero, whose brother Bill was a goalie for the London Knights for two seasons ending in 2000.

"I need to be a full-time hockey player again if I want to compete at this level."

Angela and Bill made history in January when they became the first brother and sister to compete together in a professional game with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central League.

Angela joined the Montreal Axion, the club team representing Quebec here, in January to prepare for the worlds.

WOMEN'S SCHEDULE

When: Today until Sunday

Where: Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre

Tickets: $59 tournament pass, $12 today and tomorrow, $15 Saturday and Sunday

Information: www.hockeycanada.ca


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