As Canada looks to win their fourth consecutive gold medal in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games, a remarkable group of wondrous women from the Toronto Furies will attempt to make that goal a reality. Tessa Bonhomme, Natalie Spooner and Jennifer Wakefield are a titanic trio currently part of Canada’s centralization roster.
Along with Rebecca Johnston, a legendary player from the Cornell Big Red and a member of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games squad that captured gold, Spooner and Wakefield were selected in the historic 2012 CWHL Draft. All three had remarkable rookie seasons, helping to redefine the blue and white’s offensive attack. Spooner would break the franchise record for most goals scored in one season, while Johnston scored the game winning goal in the Clarkson Cup playoffs against Brampton.
Prior to their summer departure, Furies teammates gave them a sendoff. With emotions running high at the gathering, the Furies have to adjust to the upcoming season without four key players. While the Furies have drafted the likes of Katie Wilson, Sasha Nanji, Alyssa Baldin and Kristy Garrow, these four fantastic women have left an impression on their teammates and their fans.
In their teens, the two both played ball hockey together for the Oshawa Stampede. Besides their time together as rookies with the Furies, the two also had the opportunity to play at the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championships in Ottawa. It was their first time on home soil as members of the senior team. It would only be fitting if the two could make their Winter Games debut together.
Bonhomme, Spooner and Wakefield have established themselves as the three most popular players on the Furies roster. Having all carved significant legends in women’s hockey, . Spooner is the first woman in hockey history to have played on the Canadian Under-18, Under-22/Development Team and senior national teams.
Wakefield is the all-time leading scorer in Hockey East history and has also held the rare honor of competing with the U18, U22 and Senior Teams. In her first season with the Boston Univeristy Terriers, she had the opportunity to compete with Vancouver 2010 gold medalists Marie-Philip Poulin and Catherine Ward.
Bonhomme, the first-ever draft pick in the history of the CWHL was an All-American with Ohio State University and was a champion in the CBC-Television smash hit Battle of the Blades. Of note, she is a reporter for Leafs-TV while holding endorsements with the likes of McDonalds. In October 2012, she was also on the cover of The Hockey News.
Should Spooner and Wakefield both be named to Canada’s contingent looking to win gold at Sochi, it would signify a new chapter in their long friendship. While Spooner has also played with Laura McIntosh at three different levels of hockey, she has known Wakefield since childhood.
On September 8 and 10, 2013, Bonhomme, Johnston, Spooner and Wakefield were part of Team Canada’s exhibition series versus the Russian national women’s team. With Russia having won the bronze medal at the 2013 Worlds, momentum is strong heading into Sochi. The exhibition was also an opportunity for team building while becoming more familiar with the area.
Shayba Arena hosted the series and Spooner made the difference in the 6-1 victory on September 8. Two days later, Canada prevailed by an 8-1 tally as Johnston, Spooner and Wakefield played together on one line. Spooner logged an assist while Johnston recorded two assists to go along with Wakefield’s solid two goal performance.
While the Centralization Camp can be a long and grueling process, the possible reward of a gold medal at the end transforms this laborious journey into a labour of love. While a gold medal in February 2014 shall be a hard-earned one, there is no question that the friendships forged among these Furies shall make it an experience worth treasuring for a lifetime.