Families of Nova Scotia's hockey Olympians 'so proud' as Canada goes for gold

It's showtime for Nova Scotia’s two hockey players at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. And when they take to the ice for the gold-medal match, Jillian Saulnier and Blayre Turnbull will have plenty of family support in the stands.

Team Canada plays U.S. in women's hockey final at 12:10 a.m. Thursday

Fans wave flags during the third period of the preliminary round of the women's hockey game between Canada and Finland at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. (Frank Franklin II/Associated Press)

It's showtime for Nova Scotia's two hockey players at the Olympic games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Halifax's Jillian Saulnier and Stellarton's Blayre Turnbull are going through their final preparations with their Canadian women's hockey teammates ahead of a gold-medal match against their archrivals from the U.S.

"I know they are super excited to play and all of them are jacked up and they are ready to go," said Turnbull's father, Ron, who is in South Korea.

"Both teams go at it full bore when they play each other."

The game is at 12:10 a.m. Thursday.

Ron Turnbull said watching his daughter play in the Olympics has been quite a rush.

"What I tell people is it's more nerve-racking than it is exciting," said Turnbull. "You are on pins and needles the whole time."

Jillian Saulnier reacts after scoring a goal against Finland during the preliminary round of women's hockey at the 2018 Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

Blayre Turnbull, who had two assists in Canada's 5-0 semifinal win over the Olympic Athletes from Russia, will have a crew of 14 family and friends in the stands as she plays in the biggest game of her hockey career.

Her brother Brent, a player with the St. Francis Xavier University hockey team, will not be one of them.

"It's her lifelong dream that's being played out right now in South Korea, but she understands I can't be there because I have my own playoffs going on," said Brent, who is younger by just one year.

Jillian Saulnier, a former Halifax Hawks minor hockey player, also has a large contingent of family and friends in South Korea watching her games. Like her Nova Scotia teammate, she too has a brother who is busy with his own hockey career.

Yelena Dergachyova, left, an Olympic Athlete from Russia, and Blayre Turnbull, right, of Canada, are shown during the semifinals of women's hockey in Gangneung, South Korea, on Feb. 19, 2018. (Grigory Dukor/Reuters)

Brennan Saulnier is a forward in his fourth year with the University of Alabama in Huntsville Chargers.

"To have your sister go to the Olympics is one thing. To be going for a gold medal, that's unbelievable. I'm so proud and I'm gonna be on the edge of my seat," he said.

Brennan said there are 10 friends and family members in South Korea cheering Jillian on.

While both brothers wish they could be there to watch their sisters go for the gold, both will watch the game on television.

Jillian Saulnier became the first female hockey player from Nova Scotia to score a goal in the Olympics. Prior to this year, there had never been a female player from Nova Scotia play hockey at the Olympics.

While both Turnbull and Saulnier will have lots of support in the stands for the gold-medal game, they will also have huge support back home.

"Like many Nova Scotians with a special interest in the team, I will be cheering them on," said Kevin Cameron, one of Saulnier's coaches when she played on a boys atom team.

If Canada wins the game, it will be five straight Olympic gold medals in women's hockey.

About the Author

Paul Palmeter

Reporter

Paul Palmeter is an award-winning video journalist born and raised in the Annapolis Valley. He has covered news and sports stories across the province for 30 years.