As the Brampton Thunder hosted the Toronto Furies, the contest featured a pleasant tone of coincidence, enhanced by the loving presence of a devoted hockey mom. The result was one of the most heartwarming, feel-good stories of the 2015-16 women’s hockey season.
Having spent several seasons between the pipes for the Brampton Thunder, Sonja van der Bliek was part of a rare trade, sent to the crosstown Toronto Furies on November 18, 2005 in exchange for a late round 2016 draft pick. With goaltender (and CWHL co-founder) Sami Jo Small on maternity leave, she brings the experience to contribute to the squad’s hopes of qualifying for the postseason.
In an early January 2016 match that saw the visiting Furies look to gain their first win of the New Year, it marked an emotional return for van der Bliek as it marked the first time she was facing the Thunder at their home rink. Providing a valiant effort between the pipes, van der Bliek would allow four goals in a hard fought 5-4 final in favor of her former team. Former teammates Fielding Montgomery and Jocelyne Larocque would score.
Although this latest chapter in the Battle of Toronto saw van der Bliek as a member of the visiting Furies, she could still count on the presence of her mom in the stands. During the second intermission, the special bond that hockey has strengthened between mother and daughter took an exciting new aspect, one that would capture the imaginations of hockey fans.
The prize was a bright red colored Thunder game-worn jersey from last season, signed by van der Bliek. Taking into account that her mom had the winning toss, it could not have been more serendipitous.
Considering that van der Bliek played her NCAA hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York State, where she broke 14 school records and earned a spot on the 2009 ECAC Championship All-Tournament Team, their jerseys were also a bright red. During her time with the Thunder, van der Bliek also donned the helmet from her sparkling RPI career. It was a pleasant and innocent imagery, rekindling happy glories from her NCAA career.