Friday, 12 September 2014

Clarkson Cup champion Toronto Furies show support in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Having won the Clarkson Cup for the first time in franchise history, it has only increased the importance of the role of the Toronto Furies as outstanding hockey humanitarians. From participating in the Furious Hockey Tournament (hosted by Deirdre Norman) to the Toronto Pride Parade, the Furies have proven to be remarkable ambassadors for women’s hockey in Canada’s largest metropolis.

Once news spread about the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket Challenge, it did not take long for videos to appear on social media featuring numerous Furies players proudly participating. Having become a pop culture phenomenon during the summer of 2014, the objective is to promote awareness of the disease while raising proceeds towards research. While the origins are unclear (Sports Illustrated acknowledged former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates as the one who helped make it popular), the on-air personalities from Golf Channel’s Morning Drive participated in a live challenge in late June 2014, providing the first significant mainstream media attention.

Among the Furies players that would partake, the three newest members of the Triple Gold Club for Women (players that have won Olympic gold, IIHF World gold and the Clarkson Cup) led the way. Tessa Bonhomme, Sami Jo Small and Natalie Spooner all earned Gold Club status with their 2014 Clarkson Cup win. Renowned for their charitable work, all three posted videos of their ice bucket challenge participation throughout social media, receiving praise from fans.

Not only would Furies fans emulate their heroes, but it would provide an inspiring message south of the border. Devoted Furies fan Ed Goodman would post an ice bucket challenge video on social media. Based out of Ohio, he saw future Furies such as Bonhomme, Spooner, Amber Bowman and Erika Vanderveer compete for the Ohio State Buckeyes program.

Bonhomme’s video may have been the most visually striking based on the fact that the world-renowned CN Tower was in the background. A backyard soaking featured Spooner while Small took part in the ice bucket challenge with a handful of other participants. As a side note, Carolyne Prevost, who would earn an assist on the Cup-winning goal, also participated in the challenge with a group. Said group involved the members of the Cross Fit gym that she trains with.

Afterwards, Small went to social media and nominated Furies coach (and 2014 CWHL Coach of the Year recipient) Sommer West, along with league commissioner Brenda Andress. Nominations are a common aspect of the challenge, as nominees are expected to participate within 24 hours or make a donation. Of note, the commissioner would show great leadership by participating in the challenge, as her grandson stood atop a playground with ice bucket eagerly waiting to pour.

Three members of the Furies rookie crop emulated the veterans on the team by posting their own videos. The trio included Holly Carrie-Mattimoe (who once competed with the Syracuse Orange), Jess Vella (the first player to register for the 2013 CWHL Draft) and Lisa Mullan. Of note, Vella’s video was shot in scenic cottage country, standing on a dock under the bright sun. After the shower of ice and water, she would impressively do a back flip into the lake.

A pair of veterans, Lexie Hoffmeyer and Christina Kessler also posted a video. Standing on a balcony together, the two continued what has become a proud off-season effort from the blue and white. Kessler, who earned a shutout in the Clarkson Cup win (who was also the first CWHL goaltender to earn a shutout in an NHL arena), would get soaked for a good cause while Hoffmeyer held the camera.

Of all the ice bucket challenge videos, the funniest may have belonged to Kori Cheverie. Also giving back to the women’s hockey community in Toronto with her participation at Ryerson University (who play their home games at Maple Leaf Gardens), Cheverie approaches centre ice, sitting in a chair, while a group of youngsters watches on. After a group of individuals soak Cheverie, warm cheers follow. It is all part of the Furies providing inspiration while continuing to set a positive example in the sporting community.  

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