Prince Rupert family assists Team Canada
When Blayre Turnbull scored for Team Canada in the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship semifinals on Sunday, the most excited people in the Sandman Centre likely were camped out in Section R, Row 6, seats 4 to 7.
That’s where Sheryl Sadorski, her daughter Emily Gordon and other members of their travelling party were, taking in every ounce of Canada’s 5-3 victory over Finland.
Emily is nine. She loves hockey with all her might. She’s played four seasons in her hometown of Prince Rupert. She’s also been helping her mom battle with cervical cancer for the past two years.
For Christmas, Sadorski told Emily to choose an experience she wanted and her mother would try to make it happen. Sadorski wanted to make some memories. Emily picked a trip to the women’s worlds, with the idea of meeting Team Canada face to face.
The family reached out to TSN, which in turn reached out to Hockey Canada, and on Saturday Emily and her crew got a chance to sit in at a practice at the Sandman Cen- tre and spend some time with the Canadian players afterward.
Team Canada general manager Melody Davidson had pulled Emily aside before she went to the dressing room and gave her strict marching orders: Emily was to tell Canadian star centre Marie-Philip Poulin, women’s hockey’s version of Captain Serious, to “smile more.”
Emily told her. It’s not every day you get to give the business to one of the world’s best players and have her boss backing you up.
Through Sadorski’s ordeal, the family has got a chance to meet other athletes. They were all gracious, all giving. But not like this, Sadorski said. This was next level.
“Those women are a class act,” Sadorski said.
“They had empathy. They had sympathy. They were friendly. They had her hang out with them during their cool-down after practice. They hugged her. They treated us like we were a part of the team.
“They are the definition of Canadians.”
Sadorski and Emily were so moved by the experience that they wrote a letter to the team. The team had Turnbull read it out to the group after the game on Sunday.
“The letter talked about how we were role models and how we inspired them and how we made a dream come true,” defenceman Laura Fortino said. “They don’t realize it, but they were inspiring to us.” Right winger Natalie Spooner added: “Them being there on Saturday at practice brought our team a lot of energy. They’re both so positive. It was great to meet them.”