Deserving of the moniker “living legend”, Silvia Traversa is one of the most dedicated players to have worn the Team Canada jersey. With the 2017 edition of the ISBHF Worlds representing her fifth appearance for Canada, it was an extension of a sensational legacy.
One of British Columbia’s greatest ball hockey players, the Vancouver-raised player would follow up the experience in Pardubice, Czech Republic by helping her club team, known as the Whalers, capture the provincial ball hockey championship, qualifying again for the CBHA Nationals. Gaining the tournament’s MVP and Top Scorer awards, it was an impressive feat that accentuated her Team Canada experience.
An annual fixture with British Columbia’s entry at the CBHA nationals, each subsequent event adds another level of impact and prestige to Traversa’s body of work. Having first played ball hockey in 2003 with the Calgary Kaos, (she also played for the Calgary Oval X-Treme ice hockey team at the Esso Women's Nationals), she would also capture CBC’s 3-on-3 Play On! Street Hockey National Championship with the BC Hawks in 2011.
Undoubtedly, 2017 was no different, as it allowed Traversa the opportunity to reach another prestigious peak. As the ISBHF Worlds were held less than a month before Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations, there was a strong feeling of national pride for Traversa.
Having already experienced the thrill of multiple world championships as a member of Canada’s contingent, which began in 2009 with the first gold medal of her career, the chance to wear the Maple Leaf for another time in what has proven to be a defining decade for the game was of great importance. Running parallel to such an important time in Canadian history, while emphasizing the importance of women’s sport on a national scale, it was a proud career highlight,
“It was truly an honour getting another opportunity to represent my country especially during it's 150th Birthday. This was my fifth time wear the maple leaf and each time it’s so special because there are so many memories from each team it’s truly incredible.”
With the number 88 adorning her Canadian jersey, Traversa brings a youthful exuberance and riveting enthusiasm to the court, helping establish her as a valued member of any team that she is a part of.
Ranking tenth in team scoring in Pardubice with three assists, no value could be placed on Traversa’s tremendous leadership presence. With several new faces on Team Canada this year, she took on a bigger leadership role, serving as a symbolic big sister, providing mentoring and friendship for a group of players nascent to this level of play,
“I knew with my experience I could help the other players in different ways. I knew what my role would be and I gave advice when needed and cheered the girls no matter what situation we were facing and most importantly keeping a positive attitude.
This was one of the closets teams I have played on we shared lots of laughs, intense card games and I have great memories from those moments that I will cherish forever.”
Coincidentally, the experience in Pardubice would take a unique turn, rekindling Traversa’s hockey roots, while strengthening an already meaningful friendship. Originally named to Team Canada’s roster as a coach, Tamara Pickford was called into duty midway through the tournament due to a player injury.
Having called each other teammates on Canada’s team that emerged with the gold medal at the 2015 ISBHF Worlds in Zug, Switzerland, that event actually served to enhance an amazing time that saw them as teammates a decade earlier. Playing on the ice for the BC Breakers of the Western Women’s Hockey League, their careers intersected during the 2005-06 season.
With Pickford’s ability to rise to the occasion demonstrating an exceptional devotion to her team, it complemented Traversa’s reassuring presence on the roster, serving as a source of inspiration.
Joining Traversa’s line, Pickford served as an offensive catalyst. In their first game together as linemates, Traversa logged her first points of the tournament. The game in question where the offensive floodgates opened involved competition against Team Italia.
With Italia enjoying a 1-0 lead on a goal by former Canadian national team member Alicia Furletti-Blomberg, Traversa and Pickford collaborated with assists on the game-tying goal by April Drake. Of note, Drake would reciprocate, as she combined with Traversa on a third period tally by Pickford, extending Canada’s lead in an eventual 4-1 final.
“It was pretty awesome getting another opportunity to play with Tamara. We were teammates back in 2015 in Zug where we won the championship team and were apart of the Masters championship team in Banff last year.
This year, she started off as an assistant coach so I saw another side of her since she has never been my coach before. Due to injuries she suited up so it was fun getting to play on a line with her and April Drake.”
Although Canada had endured a 3-2 loss to the United States in the semi-finals, the bronze medal game would prove to be the most important in Traversa’s distinguished career with Team Canada. Although the tragic revelations were discovered in the aftermath of the bronze medal game, which was the first in program history, it put into perspective what hockey meant to Traversa and the emotional component that served as one of the defining moments of her career.
With Canada blanking Slovakia by a 5-0 score, to keep its streak of podium finishes intact, there was an understandably sullen feeling for Traversa, the recipient of news that involved the unfortunate passing of her father. Perhaps it was divine intervention, but Traversa would make her mark in this game.
Along with Kean, the two would gain the assist on Canada’s final goal of the tournament. Scored by Rhianna Kurio, who is also a 2016 Clarkson Cup champion, it provided the dominant Canadians with a 5-0 advantage, while bringing a fitting end to Traversa’s time in Pardubice, able to pay tribute to her father with one of the most important points ever recorded,
“It was huge coming back and bringing home Bronze. This was the first time Canada was not playing for the championship and we wanted redemption from our loss to Slovakia in our first game.
It was bitter sweet to end the tournament off with the assist on Rhianna Kurio’s goal, because I found out after the game that my father had passed away the day before and I never got a chance to enjoy the memories from the tournament after I came home. I am grateful that I was able to celebrate our win with my teammates on the floor that day.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Daniel Soucek, ISBHF