With a handful of players looking to make their Winter Games debut for Team Canada at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, the chance to see Judy Diduck served as a reminder of how far the game has come, and those who made the sacrifices to elevate the game. Having competed for Canada at the inaugural Winter Games women’s hockey tournament in Nagano, Japan, Diduck is a pioneer in her sport.
Although the Nagano experience ended in a sullen silver medal for Diduck, she was a defensive stalwart who often played in the shadow of other stars on the Canadian team. Also a member of the Ringette Hall of Fame, Diduck would enjoy a stellar career with the famed University of Alberta Pandas program along with a memorable run as a member of the Edmonton Chimos. An invaluable component to Canada’s defensive corps, Diduck first rose to prominence donned in a pink uniform.
Competing with Canada at the inaugural 1990 IIHF Women’s World Championships (held on home soil in Ottawa, Canada), it would be a landmark moment in the history of women’s sports. While there were many more exciting accomplishments to follow for Diduck, her efforts helped lay the foundation for the current yet exciting state of women’s hockey in Canada today.
As the 2013-14 Canadian national women’s team engages in a series of exhibition games against boys’ midget teams, the club made a stop in Diduck’s current residence of Sherwood Park, Alberta. Competign against the Sherwood Park Kings, the top midget boys team in the province, Diduck came to center ice to conduct the opening faceoff.
Ironically, one of Diduck’s teammates from the Nagano contingent, Jayna Hefford was competing for Canada in the game. As a living linkage to the past and the future, Hefford proudly called Diduck a teammate over the course of almost four years.
Facing a one-goal deficit for most of the first frame, Jennifer Wakefield would tie the game and Rebecca Johnston would score with only 37 seconds remaining to provide Canada with a 2-1 advantage. While the Canadian contingent enjoyed support from many local girls hockey teams, Cameron Reagan would log the game-winning tally against Genevieve Lacasse in the second stanza.
While Canada could not retain their first period lead, Diduck’s presence was a feel-good moment in what has emerged as a highly emotional centralization camp. From the sad release of Tessa Bonhomme to the unexpected resignation of head coach Dan Church, Diduck may help to restore the morale for a Canadian team looking to win its fourth consecutive Winter Games gold.