Having scored a legendary goal whose impact will extend years beyond her final shift in hockey, Blayre Turnbull would bring the Clarkson Cup to Western Canada for the first time in its storied history. It was not just a player who scored a goal, it was another piece to add to the foundation of Clarkson Cup lore, propelling the growing impact of women’s hockey in the Prairies into a mythical status.
Scoring her game-winning goal in the second period, one of four Inferno skaters that would assemble two-goal performances by game’s end, Turnbull’s goal would usurp the traditional domination of Central Canada in the women’s game. Suddenly, the balance of power had shifted dramatically.
Not only did Turnbull’s goal open the door, entering a much larger world, it trampled it. Both the Maritimes and Prairie Canada could stake their claim as having contributed to more than just a bold new chapter in Canadian women’s hockey history, but crafting an exciting new chapter in sporting Canadiana.
“I was happy to be able to help the team win however I could, so to score felt good, but most importantly I was happy that we won as a team.”
Raised in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, her magical hockey journey was shared by Jillian Saulnier, who both enjoyed the privilege of donning the jersey of Nova Scotia’s provincial team. Although their talented paths went separate ways in NCAA hockey, as Turnbull opted for the University of Wisconsin Badgers, coached by Miracle on Ice member Mark Johnson, and Saulnier skated for Ithaca, New York’s Cornell University, both were destined to be teammates yet again. Each selected by the same team in the 2015 CWHL Draft, it would foreshadow the glories to come.
Reuniting with the Caglary Inferno, it brought their careers and friendships full circle. Both were part of an exciting rookie crop for the Calgary Inferno, adding an offensive depth that pounded the unsuspecting yet favored Canadiennes de Montreal into an 8-3 submission. Not only did both enjoy the historic experience of competing on the first Clarkson Cup on NHL ice, contested at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre, both became the first women from Nova Scotia to hoist the Cup.
“It feels great to be able to share this moment with Jill. I know a lot of young girls back home were able to watch the game on TV so I’m sure it was cool for them to see Jill and I on the ice, and I’m certain that 10-15 years from know some of those girls will be playing in the CWHL.”
For the second consecutive season, the Clarkson Cup-winning goal was scored by a first-year player. Both goals featured a unique geographical component as Janine Weber became the first European to score the Cup-winning goal, doing so for the Boston Blades in 2015. Fast forward one year, and Turnbull became the first player from Nova Scotia to help her team win the Clarkson Cup with a timely goal. Coincidentally, both goals were scored against All-World goaltender Charline Labonte from Montreal.
Having logged at least one point in each of the Inferno’s postseason contests, Turnbull’s efforts resulted in the Inferno being the first team to capture the Clarkson Cup on NHL ice, as the event was hosted at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre. For Turnbull to get the opportunity to score such a historic goal on a grand stage, to be able to lift the coveted Cup and know that her name shall be engraved, immortalizing her hockey heroics, it has contributed to memories that shall last a lifetime
“It was a great feeling. Something that I will remember for a long, long time.”
While Turnbull has acquired a newfound legend in Maritime hockey circles with her legendary performance, it also made its mark felt south of the border. Of note, Turnbull became the first alum from the University of Wisconsin to score a Clarkson Cup-winning goal. Having served as Wisconsin’s captain in her senior season, she ranks among the top 20 scorers in program history, while setting the record for most shorthanded goals in one season.
Adding to the feeling of Badgers pride is the fact that the last four Cup champions (Boston – 2013, 2015, Toronto – 2014, Calgary – 2016) have all enjoyed at least one Wisconsin alum on their roster. Coincidentally, former Badger teammate Brianna Decker became the first player to score the Isobel Cup-winning goal, doing so with the Boston Pride in Game 2 of their series against the Buffalo Beauts.
For Turnbull, the chance at hockey glory does not end with the Clarkson Cup. One of two players that shall make her debut for Canada at the 2016 IIHF Women’s Worlds (including Brampton goaltender Erica Howe), she becomes the second woman from Nova Scotia to don the Maple Leaf at the IIHF Worlds. Although she hopes that a golden glorious run shall complement her Cup win, there is no question that the hockey world has quickly caught up to Turnbull and the superstar potential that she possesses.
Image obtained from: Facebook – Calgary Inferno
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”