Riley Scorgie skating past adversity enroute to Esso Cup

Riley Scorgie has become accustomed to handling adversity in her life.

So, when the Edmonton Jr. Oilers White found themselves in a one-goal game with the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs in the Alberta Female Hockey League U18 AAA Provincial Championships gold medal game, there was no panicking on the Oilers bench, and they were able to nurse home a 2-1 victory.

“I think I just burst into tears, I couldn’t contain myself,” Scorgie said. “Us and Red Deer had gone back and forth all season and there is a clear rivalry there with them. That game especially, emotions were so up and down, and it was just one of those games where you must keep your emotions in check and capitalize on the opportunities given. Thankfully it worked out in our favour.”

The victory punched Edmonton’s ticket to the 2024 Esso Cup in Vernon, B.C., where they will face the top U18 AAA teams from across the country in Canada’s National Championship tournament.

“I’m so excited and I know the girls can say the same as well. This is an opportunity of a lifetime,” she said. “My dad was showing me the statistics of probability for someone to make Esso Cup and it was like zero point zero something percent just due to the sheer number of female teams there are in the country. So, we’re definitely going to go and make the most of it.”

The Cornell University commit was an integral part of the Jr. Oilers success this season, posting 23 points in 30 regular season games in a two-way forward role while also adding an assist during provincials. She said she knew early on that she was part of a special group.

“On paper we knew we had a lot of talented people coming in. We all fit so well as a group and I genuinely don’t think I’ve played on a team that’s been so close,” she said. “I’m proud to call this team my family and I think from the get-go we just had that connection because we all wanted the same thing. Every team has their best qualities and with us it was only a matter of weeks with (head coach) Joel (Lenius) reinforcing the same habits and simple plays that we were able to figure out our team identity. Then about midway through the season we started to skyrocket and stayed consistent.”

Scorgie had to overcome a lot to even get on the ice the past couple of seasons, let alone help her team to the Esso Cup. In October of 2018, she was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder that causes a person’s immune system to attack their nerves, causing weakness, numbness, and sometimes paralysis.

“When it happened, I was very confused … I didn’t really understand what was going on. We thought it maybe had to do with growing up, getting older, hitting that puberty phase in your life and it ended up not being the case,” Scorgie said. “I started to slowly lose feeling in my legs and ability to walk, which was terrifying. But I feel like I was so young, where I didn’t really understand that this disease could be really bad for me.”

Scorgie’s love and passion for the game of hockey was what kept her motivated through the trials and tribulations of her recovery.

“Hockey was really the main thing that kept me going during that part of my life. Obviously, there were times that it got hard such as relearning how to skate. That was a very hard and emotional process but at the end of the day I’m very proud of how far I’ve come,” she said. “It definitely taught me what adversity can do for people and how it’s beneficial. I feel like I’m a much stronger person now and it has really helped me with my hockey journey. It was such a great factor in helping me grow as a person as well as a player, so as traumatic as that experience was, I’m very grateful for it.”

The 17-year-old forward has built a large social media platform for herself, garnering almost 15,000 followers on Instagram. She has parlayed her platform into becoming an ambassador for Sherwood Hockey as well as inspiring a younger generation of female hockey players to get involved in the sport.

“I not only wanted to promote the women’s game and show people how great we can be, but I also wanted to be the positive aspect of women’s hockey,” Scorgie said. “Growing up I always say the negatives because there’s always those people that are like ‘women shouldn’t be playing hockey; women should be in the kitchen or figure skating’. I just wanted to squash all of those stereotypes and give more respect to the women’s game because female athletes are incredible, and they deserve to have recognition.”

Scorgie’s end goal is the Professional Women’s Hockey League, where she hopes, she can continue to inspire the younger generation into accomplishing their goals and dreams. But before she can take the next step to the professional or even the college ranks, she has her eyes set on wrapping up her minor hockey career by capturing the Esso Cup.

Edmonton’s first game is taking place April 21 against the Quebec league champion at 4:00 pm (MT). They follow that up with games on April 22 to 25 against the remaining champions from across the country.

The team’s full schedule can be found below:

Edmonton Jr. Oilers White Esso Cup schedule (all times MT)
April 21 Edmonton Jr. Oilers White vs Quebec 4:00 pm
April 22 Edmonton Jr. Oilers White vs Thompson-Okanagan Lakers 5:00 pm.
April 23 Edmonton Jr. Oilers White vs West 6:00 pm
April 24 Edmonton Jr. Oilers White vs Atlantic 6:00 pm
April 25 Edmonton Jr. Oilers White vs Ontario 12:00 noon
April 26 Semifinals TBD
April 27 Bronze Medal Game 1:00 pm
April 27 Gold Medal Game 5:00 pm