Sunday, 5 January 2014

Lyndsey Fry preserves memory of fallen friend Liz Turgeon in sojourn to Sochi

In the unfolding history of women’s hockey, the friendships and playing relationships that forge unbreakable bonds are one of its defining characteristics. Such a friendship is one between Lyndsey Fry and the Turgeon family. On the surface, it would be easy to observe their history and feel like it was directly from a novel by Mitch Albom. In truth, it is a moving series of events that help provide a human side to a game that can be blinded by the intense level of competition.

Such intensity is one that Fry will endure as she becomes the first native from the state of Arizona to be named to the United States Winter Games team. As Canada and the US prepare to write the next chapter in their eternal rivalry at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games team, Fry’s experiences helps to put such intensities into perspective.

Like many of her generation, Fry was greatly influenced by The Mighty Ducks movie series released by Disney. The result was a motivation to succeed at the game, resulting in Fry playing for three years at the club level in Arizona as a captain on her boy’s team. While her family understood that the need to elevate her game would force her to move out of state, the result was a friendship that could never be broken.

Liz Turgeon, the daughter of former NHL first overall draft pick Pierre Turgeon, had made Colorado her home after her father retired with the Colorado Avalanche. The two would become fast friends after earning spots on the Colorado Select Team. Turgeon would wear the number 87, the same number her father wore in the NHL. Ironically, Pierre would serve as head coach of the squad, leading them to the semifinals of the 2010 USA Hockey National championships.

A second generation star, Turgeon had qualified for the US Under-18 squad which captured gold at the inaugural IIHF Under-18 Women’s Worlds. Sadly, her good friend Fry had not qualified for the roster. Ironically, the reversal would happen one year later as Fry was named to the 2009 squad while Turgeon would not make the final cut. Despite the setback, both dreamed of possibly representing the United States on the world’s biggest stage as teammates.

Sadly, this was not meant to be. Fry’s live would change forever on December 23, 2010 with the news that Turgeon was involved in a collision. Turgeon’s life was one lost too soon. With plans to compete at the NCAA level in Minnesota, she was proudly following in her father’s footsteps as a hockey hero. In January 2011, the Junior Women's Hockey League honored Turegon's memory by naming its Player of the Year Award after her. With Fry ready to play for the prestigious Harvard Crimson program, hockey had diminished as a priority.

Although Fry would eventually continue her hockey journey by suiting up for the Crimson, the memory of Turgeon is always close by.  Having delivered the eulogy at the ceremony which honored Turgeon’s life, she remained in close contact with the Turgeon family. From maintaining a friendship with Turgeon’s twin sister, Alex, a former volleyball competitor at the University of Denver, along with mother Elisabeth Turgeon, Fry’s journey to Sochi is equally theirs.  

The reason is that Fry has chosen to honor Turgeon’s memory by carrying her U18 USA Hockey jersey with her. Although Turgeon’s life was tragically taken far too soon, she is with Fry in spirit as the dream of competing in Sochi becomes reality. Similar to the unexpected friendship struck between Chicago Bears football players Gale Sayers and the late Brian Piccolo, who lost a battle with leukemia, in the 1960s (which became the basis for the film Brian’s Song), Fry and Turgeon share a similar yet equally heartwarming friendship. It is such a friendship that defines the Olympic spirit, eradicating the national rivalries and borders that exist, while incorporating what is important and good about the sporting life.

Image of Fry with Turgeon jersey obtained from Facebook

Liz Turgeon with Alliance Pee-Wee AA Boys Texas hockey in 2004-05 obtained from:

Donning the Colorado Selects jersey, Turgeon wore the number 87 like her father in the NHL. Image obtained from:

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