Monday, 2 December 2013

Tessa Bonhomme remains a picture of grace and dignity as she returns to CWHL

Although the release of Tessa Bonhomme from Canada’s centralization camp was nothing short of heartbreaking, there is no denying her perseverance and sense of teamwork. In the midst of such a difficult time, Bonhomme made a heroic return with the Toronto Furies.

While it would have been easy to wallow in self-pity or complain to the media, Bonhomme has proven why she is a role model to millions of young girls. Going to social media to thank her fans for their support, she has handled the setback with an element of grace and dignity. Despite suffering a crushed nerve on October 1, along with a reported case of shingles, she always took to the ice, giving her team a chance to win.

Tragically, the embarrassment of riches for Canada’s national women’s team has resulted in controversial or sad moves before nearly every Winter Games. Angela James was released before the 1998 Nagano Winter Games and her release likely cost Canada the gold medal. Overtime hero Nancy Drolet suffered the same fate prior to Salt Lake 2002 and Gillian Ferrari, a popular teammate was not on the roster for Vancouver 2010.

On November 29, Bonhomme was back on CWHL ice for a three-game road set with the Calgary Inferno. While all CWHL fans would have preferred to see Bonhomme helping Canada win gold at Sochi, the devotion to her club team is nothing short of inspiring.

Despite losing to the Inferno in a shootout, there was a moral victory for Bonhomme. Although Calgary is the home city for the Canadian team during the centralization, she displayed remarkable character gracing the ice at Winsport Canada Arena. When Bonhomme took to the ice to participate in the shootout, it was the feel-good moment of the game.

Before the series would expire, Bonhomme would make her mark. The December 1 contest saw the Inferno outshoot the Furies by a 35-19 margin, yet the Furies prevailed by a 7-1 tally. Highlighted by Carolyne Prevost’s four-point night, the game also resulted in three open net goals for the Furies.

Ironically, Prevost and Bonhomme were part of Hockey Canada’s Winter Training Camp in Ottawa in January 2013. As an evaluation camp for the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds, Prevost was not selected for the final roster. Having experienced such disappointment, she can understand the feeling of loss and misfortune that Bonhomme felt when she was not selected for the roster competing at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Of note, Prevost would assist on Bonhomme’s first goal of the season in the 7-1 triumph. After two periods of play, the contest was a 1-1 deadlock. Only 48 seconds into the final frame, Lexie Hoffmeyer and Prevost would assist on Bonhomme’s goal. It would open the floodgates for the Furies as another five goals were scored.

Appropriately, Bonhomme’s first goal of her 2013-14 CWHL season was also the game winner. Considering that Meagan Aarts also played in her 150th career CWHL contest earlier in November, the Furies have benefitted from great momentum.

While the short term sees Bonhomme in action with the Furies, there is no denying that her run with the Canadian team holds many long-term possibilities. Not even 30, Bonhomme has the potential to be back in the Canadian jersey for the 2015 IIHF Women’s Worlds. Considering France St. Louis was 39 when she made her Winter Games hockey debut for Canada, Bonhomme on the 2018 roster for the Pyeongchang Winter Games could be the ultimate chapter in her storied career.

Despite 2013 being a roller-coaster year for the likeable Bonhomme, she has always stood tall. From being the face of Hockey Canada’s Livestrong Jersey campaign to greeting young fans at the Clarkson Cup to standing on the ice beside a weeping Sarah Vaillancourt after the Gold Medal Game of the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds, Bonhomme symbolizes strength yet compassion. Having been released from the Canadian contingent that claimed gold at Torino 2006, she has bounced back from setbacks before. Like Jarid Peterson stated on Women’s Hockey Life, “My Canada includes Tessa Bonhomme,” and it is a senitment shared by many fans. 

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