The 2021-22 campaign was an unforgettable one for Colgate alumna and Team Harvey’s forward Jessie Eldridge. After an outstanding collegiate career, the 2019 Patty Kazmaier finalist worked her way onto Team Canada’s 2022 Worlds roster with strong showings in national team camp and head-turning performances in the PWHPA’s Dream Gap Tours. She’s already won gold but there are abundant signs that the best is yet to come for Eldridge.
Last year’s PWHPA Dream Gap Tour was a roaring success for Eldridge. She stole the show in more than a few games and led all skaters with her rate of production. She averaged 2.0 Pts/GP, a total of 12 points — 11 of them at even strength — in 6 GP. Nine of those 12 points were primary and five of those were goals scored at even strength. When she was on the ice, she was making things happen. Which is just what she did when she got the call to play for Canada in the 2022 Worlds.
Eldridge played a supporting role for Team Canada in Denmark but found a way to leave her mark in her first major international tournament. She saw just 12:00 TOI/GP, but managed to pick up two points in 7 GP and finish second on the team — behind only Marie-Philip Poulin — in shots on goal, with 31. Consider that number for a moment. Eldridge had 31 SOG in 12:00 TOI/GP and Poulin had 32 SOG in 18:27 TOI/GP in Denmark. That’s a rate of 0.36 iSOG/60 against Poulin’s .25 iSOG/60 in all situations. That’s pretty wild, even for a small sample size.
One thing is for sure — Eldridge knows how to get pucks on net.
Watching Eldridge play, it’s hard to understand how she hasn’t been a staple of the Canadian national team for the past few years. Now 24 and turning 25 in December, she plays with so much confidence and strength on the puck. Her instinct to bring the puck into high-danger scoring areas is evident almost every time she gets touches in the o-zone.
Diving a little deeper into her college numbers reveals that Eldridge was responsible for driving a significant amount of Colgate’s offense. Per Dave MacPherson’s Pick224.com, 21 of Eldridge’s 30 goals in her senior season were scored at evens. Even more impressively, she had 13 more primary points than Shae Labbe, who finished second on the Red Raiders in primary points in 2018-19. She was the top-line center and the engine of that offense.
The other number to highlight here — especially when looking for signs of a player who may develop into an elite-goal scorer at the international level — is shot quantity. Of course, shot quality is even more important, but we don’t have access to that data in the public sphere. Fortunately, being a high-volume shooter is a trait we can measure with boxcar stats.
At Colgate in 2018-19, Eldridge had 190 SOG in 38 GP. In 2017-18, her impressive junior campaign, she had 174 SOG in 41 GP. That’s a jump from 4.24 SOG/GP to 5.0 SOG/GP and is exactly what you hope to see from the first-line center with a knack for scoring. It’s also important to note that Eldridge isn’t one-dimensional with the puck. She had 89 assists in college and 71 of those were primary — and she’s only gotten better since graduating.
Everywhere Eldridge has played she has shown an ability to make plays, generate chances, and produce. That is why we should expect big things from her in the 2022-23 PWHPA Dream Gap Tour. Eldridge will be a lock for a spot on one of the top two lines and will be counted on to make things happen regardless of who her linemates are. If she plays like she did last season, she might just be writing her name onto Team Canada’s next Worlds roster in permanent marker.
The journey back to the national team for Eldridge and so many others begins this weekend in Montréal, Oct. 15-16, in the first stop of the 2022-23 Secret Dream Gap Tour.
Data courtesy of EliteProspects.com, the IIHF, the PWHPA, or tracked by the author.