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Amy Turek brought star power to exciting era for the game

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Belonging to a ground-breaking generation that propelled women’s ice hockey into the millennium, Amy Turek made her mark in various facets of the game. Lacing up the skates at five years young, her path destined to wear the Maple Leaf, the 1990s saw Turek’s career flourish.

Skating in the pioneering Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League, first wearing the jersey of the Guelph Eagles in the 1992-93 season, Turek made her mark at the university level. Skating for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, becoming one of the program’s first stars, she quickly emerged among the finest in the province.

Netting three straight OWIAA (now OUA) All-Star selections, Turek skated during a golden age for the conference. With other notable All-Stars including Cassie Campbell, Lori Dupuis, Jayna Hefford and Andria Hunter, all skaters for Team Canada in their careers, Turek’s career highlights included recognition as the Golden Hawks Team MVP for 1994-95, along with the conference Bronze Medal in 1996 and 1997.

Worth noting, a member of the program’s 50-goal club, Turek was also bestowed the honor of the captaincy during her stellar career. Statistically, she recorded 89 points in only 41 games, highlighted by 54 goals. Her greatest performance involved a seven-point outburst versus the York Yeowomen (now Lions) on January 29, 1995.

Although the program experienced growing pains, languishing in the shadow of other sports, compounded by raising awareness about female athletes, Turek recalls how a severe disparity occurred. From the difference in home venues to available ice time, funding also presented a point of debate.

“Female hockey was very different in the 90’s. The men’s and women’s programs at Laurier were not allotted the same funding. The women played in “the bubble” which was a tiny rink with a bubble over top of it. The dressing room was like a shack attached to it and only one player could open the door to get into the bubble at a time. We practiced at 6:30 in the morning. The men’s program had a brand new facility and better practice times.”

Through the tireless contributions of players like Turek, a positive shift was inevitable. Playing alongside the likes of Donna Forbes, Stephanie Kay and Cheryl Pounder, their collective efforts established a foundation of brilliance that enabled the Golden Hawks program to grow.

Becoming a strong point of pride in the university’s athletic conversation, the Golden Hawks women’s ice hockey team eventually became one of the most predominant in the OUA, appearing at eight consecutive CIS women’s nationals (2004-11). With the Bubble closing in 2001, the program embarked on a new era of equality.

Turek’s university legacy would reach new relevance with a hallowed place in the Laurier Athletics Hall of Fame. Worth noting, the induction represented a fascinating brush with history, bridging generations of athletic greatness.

Her father, Ed Turek, the first pick overall in the 1966 CFL Draft and 1967 Grey Cup champion with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, also holds a place in the Laurier Hall. With Turek’s 2003 induction, it marked the first father-daughter combination honored by the university. Celebrated for her leadership, offensive ability and dedication, Turek definitely holds a place as a true builder for the women’s program,

“What I enjoyed about being a leader on the team was starting my varsity career with a program that was in its infancy and being part of its growth. We started with very little and the program has come a long way. It was nice to have articles written about our team’s success in the school newspaper. As we became more successful, there was a buzz on campus.”

As the COWHL evolved into the original NWHL, the transformation occurring in the aftermath of the Nagano Winter Games, Turek found the ideal venue to extend her standing as an elite scorer. With the acclaimed Toronto Aeros becoming her club team full-time upon graduation from Laurier, Turek recorded 25 points in the inaugural NWHL season of 1998-99. The following season, Turek enjoyed 51 points in 38 games played, landing on the 1999-2000 NWHL Western Division 1st All-Star Team. 

Landing on Hockey Canada’s radar for her exceptional play, Turek enjoyed a seminal moment in the history of the National Women’s Team. Certainly representing an exhilarating summit in her own competitive odyssey, the match encompassed the thrill of skating for Canada. Participating in a nationally televised game in January 2000, dubbed the TSN Challenge, the experience allowed Canadian hockey enthusiasts the opportunity to catch up to Turek’s brilliance.

Taking place at Air Canada Centre, home of the Maple Leafs, the TSN Challenge pitted the national teams of Canada and the United States. Part of the festivities leading up to the NHL All-Star Game, also contested at the ACC, the Friday night match saw over 15,000 fans fill the venue, Undeniably, competing on NHL ice brought with it tremendous relevance for the female game. A major league feeling accentuated by a national television audience, feelings of celebration and achievement encompassed an exciting night. 

Prevailing in a shutout victory, Turek recorded the game’s opening goal, a roar of cheers from the crowd creating a surge of adrenaline accentuating one of her finest achievements. Following the postgame ceremony, Canada’s wondrous women reciprocated the show of appreciation from a jubilant crowd with a highly emotional stick salute, becoming a proud ritual for future generations.

“Playing for Team Canada was always a dream for me. Wearing the jersey for the first time was simply amazing. At the TSN Challenge, they set a record for the largest fan support at a female hockey game (15,500). 

It was surreal, playing at the Air Canada Centre with all my family watching. The building erupted with the fans cheering the whole game. I was thrilled to score a goal and we beat the US 5-0.”

As meaningful as the TSN Challenge was for Turek, equally relevant was an outstanding career garbed in the paraphernalia of the Aeros. Belonging to a pioneering roster that boasted a who’s who of women’s ice hockey, including Cassie Campbell and Geraldine Heaney, among others, Turek and her strong scoring touch were a perfect fit.

Complemented by the peerless presence of head coach Ken Dufton, the Aeros were a constant fixture in the Millennium Cup and Esso Women’s Nationals. Representing a standard of excellence, of which Turek was essential, her finest season statistically involved a 69-point campaign in 2000-01. Running parallel to this exciting time, her brother Matt played professionally in the East Coast Hockey League, along with a few stints in Germany.

“The Toronto Aeros had an unbelievable program for girls and the best managers and coaches. I played for 12 years for the Toronto Aeros in the NWHL. We had a very successful team and a great group of players. My best memories are playing with the Aeros at the National Championships and winning the Nationals many times.”

Holding proud standing as a hockey hero during an empowering time, Turek’s legacy involves other unique facets. Competing for Canada at the 2003 and 2004 Inline Worlds, earning a podium finish each time, extending the privilege of wearing the Maple Leaf, Turek also tapped into her entrepreneurial spirit.

As the proprietor of Victory Hockey School, Turek has shared her acumen through instruction for over two decades. The experience is ideal, reflecting her full-time occupation as a Physical Education teacher. Adding to the theme of full circle in this venture involves the unique fact that Forbes, a former teammate with the Golden Hawks and the National Inline Team, also shares her knowledge as an instructor. Certainly, the most rewarding element of instruction involves giving back to a game that has proven to be such a source of enjoyment.

Equally enjoyable involves another highly relevant aspect of Turek’s participation in the game. Holding as much impact, the tremendous enjoyment from being a sporting mom brings its own rewards. Proud to see her daughter excel in volleyball, their bond through sport has early roots. In the postgame celebration, after capturing the gold medal at the 2004 Inline World Championships, Turek held her infant daughter, surrounded by jubilant teammates, an image immortalized in media.

Following Turek’s example, her younger son, opting to take to the ice enjoyed a monumental 2022. The most recent highlight involved capturing the U15AAA GTHL title. Following it up with the 2022 Ontario Hockey Federation championship, this third generation of athletes are carving their own exciting legacies, one that represents significant enjoyment for Turek, proud to show her support. 

“What I enjoy most about watching my kids play is that hockey is my passion. I love the game. Now I can still experience a game (that) I am so passionate about in a different light. 

It was a difficult transition at first to go from a player to a coach to a parent. I just felt like jumping on the ice and playing. I did not want to stop playing. Now, I enjoy watching my son play and helping him achieve his goals. My daughter played volleyball, so it was nice to enjoy a new sport with her.”

All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated

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