In storybook fashion, the gold medal game of the 2013 World Ball Hockey Championships featured a rematch of the 2011 final. Once again, home soil offered the advantage. Contested in St. John's, Newfoundland on June 9, Dawn Tulk scored twice as Canada blanked Slovakia by a 2-0 tally.
Tensions were high on both sides, as Slovakia was looking to win their second consecutive gold medal. At the 2011 Worlds, Slovakia was the host country and became the first Eastern Bloc country to capture a world title in women’s ball hockey. Heading into the 2011 gold medal game, Canada had not allowed one goal, but Slovakia managed to score the one that counted as they bested the squad by a 1-0 tally.
Despite the pressure of facing the defending world champions, it was exactly what Canada wanted on their road to golden redemption. Jack Byrne Arena was the setting for this grudge match with both nations having something to prove.
With Zuzana Tomcikova (who competed with Slovakia’s women’s ice hockey team at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games) between the pipes, any victory would be hard earned. Despite a match where both teams exerted remarkable effort, the difference was Tulk, who managed to beat All-World backstop Tomcikova twice.
Tomcikova and Tulk would both be named to the All-Star Team along with Megan Habina (USA), Ivana Gajdosova (Slovakia), Marilyn Janjic (Switzerland) and Lucie Povova (Czech Republic). Of note, the Czechs blanked the US by a 5-0 tally in the bronze medal game. Katherina Becevova of Czech Republic was awarded Best Goaltender Award, while Canada earned the rest of the Best Player Awards.
Alicia Blomberg and Fannie Desforges (who both graduated from the Ottawa Gee Gees women’s ice hockey program in 2013) earned Best Forward and Most Valuable Player. Desforges (who was also the 2012 Red Bull Crashed Ice World Champion) was the overall scoring champion. In addition, the Canadian team won the Fairplay Award.
As St. John’s hosted the men’s and women’s championships, local pride was strong as seven Newfoundlanders competed. The men’s team featured former Montreal Canadiens player Terry Ryan, while the women’s team featured Tulk, Kristen Cooze (from Kippens) and Amanda Kean (of St. Anthony). The men’s team bested Portugal by a 7-3 score in the bronze medal game.
At the 2012 National Ball Hockey championships in Edmonton, this titanic trio represented Newfoundland. Tulk would score the game winner in the semifinals of the B Division as Newfoundland advanced to win the gold medal in the B Division.
Back in 2009, Tulk had to turn down an opportunity to compete with the St. Mary’s University varsity ice hockey team. As Memorial University in Newfoundland did not have a women’s team, she stayed home and competed with the Deer Lake Under-20 hockey team.
Besides Tulk earning her due as a hockey hero, the other intriguing story of the Worlds was the retirement of Canadian coach Chris Pellerin. The only coach Canada had ever known, she was inducted into the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association in May.
Back in 1987, she played with the Toronto Canadiana Cougars taking gold at the inaugural Women’s Canadian Ball Hockey Tournament. Her career has now come full circle, as she can walk away from a storied career having won gold on home soil once again.