Monday, 13 April 2015

Toronto Marlies honor Furies with annual Women's Hockey Day event

On a day when the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies hosted its annual Women's Hockey Day event, a unique storyline was developing. Following the abrupt announcement that the Hamilton Bulldogs were relocating to St John's, Newfoundland, the rivalry would reach its apex with the Furies hosting their rivals down the QEW one final time at Ricoh Coliseum.

As one tradition was ending, another would continue as four members of the Toronto Furies were recognized during the Marlies' annual Women’s Hockey Day event. Taking centre ice for the ceremonial faceoff, Kori Cheverie, Sami Jo Small, Holly Carrie-Mattimoe and rookie Laurel Hill were not only on-hand for an historic game but an opportunity to greet fans, sign autographs and help bring awareness to a growing brand of outstanding hockey.

This year, the event had strong momentum as it had been promoted simultaneously with the CWHL's historic All-Star Game, which took place at Air Canada Centre in December 2014. There was even a booth at the ACC in which players could meet a representative of the Marlies and gain more info as to the upcoming event. As the Marlies and Air Canada Centre are both under the umbrella of parent company Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (a proud CWHL sponsor), it was encouraging to see women's hockey in Toronto continue to gain relevance this year.

Each member of the Furies in attendance at Ricoh Centre definitely brings their own unique background to the game; their collective efforts provide inspiration to a new generation of young female hockey players. Kori Cheverie, who also participates in Ryerson Skate Training, is one of the unsung heroes on the Furies. A little known fact about Cheverie is that she is the only woman to have won the Atlantic University Sport’s version of the Marion Hilliard Award three years in a row.  
For CWHL co-founder Sami Jo Small, the chance to participate at Marlies' Women's Hockey Day serves as an opportunity to celebrate her legacy. One of the finest ambassadors in women’s hockey today, the articulate and gracious goaltender has worked tirelessly off the ice to raise millions in dollars and secure sponsorships in order to give women a chance to continue their careers after university.

Having also participated in the 2014 edition of the Marlies' Women's Hockey Day, Holly Carrie-Mattimoe would capture a Clarkson Cup title in her rookie season. The all-time leading scorer in women’s hockey at Syracuse, she would appear in 15 games for the Furies this season. Of note, she would log an assist in the team’s season opener.

Selected in the fifth round of the 2014 CWHL Draft, Laurel Hill grew up north of Toronto in Huntsville, Ontario. Having manned the blueline at St. Norbert College from 2010-14, she would garner First-Team All-America honors in her senior season. This was complemented by earning recognition as an Academic All-American. Seeing ice time in 14 games during her rookie campaign, she made her CWHL debut on November 29, 2014 against the Montreal Stars.
With a handful of associations and over a dozen teams from across Ontario in attendance, the chance to experience Women's Hockey Day was enhanced by a special opportunity to share in a postgame skate with their hockey heroes from the Furies. Taking into account that the Furies players donated their time to participate in such a meaningful day, it was a positive message sent to the young players that it was quality time.

For many of these young players, whose efforts are contributing to the growth of the game at the grassroots level, an encouraging day with the empowering women of the Furies may yield positive results. Such an experience may see the youngsters cultivate the confidence and gain the ambition to eagerly emulate the Furies on-ice successes.

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