When Amy tries a move, Sarah’s there to break it up. On the flip side, when Sarah tries something, Amy is all over it as well.
“We find that we can read each other quite well, so we find it’s a lot of back and forth … I can’t beat her but she can’t beat me because we both know what moves we’re going to do,” says Amy. “We work on the moves together. It’s weird because it’s kind of like going against yourself. We have to learn to be extra defensive whenever we’re playing against each other.”
And playing against each other is what the Potomak sisters were doing for one week. 17-year-old Amy was a member of Team Red, while 19-year-old Sarah was on Team White at Canada’s National Women’s Team’s camp in autumn. The camp brought together the nation’s top 44 female players and one of the week’s best story lines was the Potomak vs Potomak matchup.
“We’re super competitive with each other so it was a good battle,” says Sarah. “It was weird seeing her out there; I was cheering for her even though she was on the other team but it was fun to play against each other, especially at the national camp.”
The Potomak sisters come from an incredible hockey family. Their parents, Jane and Steve, have put six children through minor hockey in Aldergrove, British Columbia and have seen their kids grow into successful young adults. The four boys are all accomplished young men – Mark is an optometrist working in China; Matthew is completing law school; Devin, a nurse, recently married; and the youngest boy, Brandon, played parts of five seasons for the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Canadian Hockey League, Canada’s top junior league.
That week Jane and Steve were focused on their girls, Sarah and Amy, who are trying to become the first pair of sisters to ever suit up for Team Canada at a major event. The Bram sisters – Bailey and Shelby – have been to a national team camp together but only Bailey has cracked the squad for a major event.
Sarah Potomak competed in the 2015 4 Nations Cup in November and was a late cut from Canada’s roster ahead of the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship. Amy Potomak played at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship while her sister was already over the age limit and she can again play for Canada at this winter’s U18 Women’s World in the Czech Republic.
Both sisters were at the camp to take another run at donning the red and white jersey together.
“It’s just proving again that I can play at this level and proving to them what I bring to the team,” says Sarah on what her goal is. “Working my hardest to improve and becoming an even better player. It’s a dream of mine to make this team this year. I’m going to do everything I can to ensure they don’t have any more questions.”
The Potomaks are also trying to do what few female athletes from British Columbia have done and that’s represent Team Canada on the international ice. In the history of Canada’s National Women’s Team, only Sarah Potomak and Danielle Dube (a goaltender from Vancouver, who competed at the 1997 women’s worlds) have represented the province.
“That’s also another reason why I want it so bad,” says Sarah who, like Amy, is a forward. “We haven’t had many players play for the national team. I want to, with my sister and Micah Hart (from Saanichton, BC) who also took part at the camp, to lead our province and be the role models for younger girls growing up, just like how (Marie-Philip) Poulin was for us. It would be cool for the younger girls in that province to have someone to look up to from BC.”
Poulin and Natalie Spooner are both mentioned by the Potomak sisters as they were their hockey heroes growing up. In fact, Spooner’s power game is one that Amy tries to mirror.
Amy, when asked how her and Sarah differ in their games, mentions size.
“I have a little more power on my side,” says the 5-foot-8 Amy. “I’m bigger, she’s not super tall (Sarah is 5-foot-5). But I’m a pretty tall, solid player. I find she uses a lot of quick, tight turns whereas I try to power through and use my size to my advantage. We both do rely on our skill a lot, but I think that’s the biggest difference … where she might do a tight turn and get in an open space, I might drive through and go to the net.”