As one of Canada’s most accomplished ball hockey players, Dawn Tulk’s skills have taken her to the highest levels of play in the world. This year was no different as Tulk remained an essential member of Canada’s second consecutive gold medal at the Women’s World Street Hockey Championships.
Contested bi-annually, the previous edition of the Worlds held an exceptionally strong emotional component for Tulk, who was raised in Deer Lake. As the 2013 Worlds were hosted in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the chance to compete in her home province was a treasured and cherished moment in her athletic career. Of note, Tulk scored both goals for Canada in the 2013 gold medal game.
Joined on the Canadian contingent by fellow Newfoundlanders Kristen Cooze (from Kippens) and Amanda Kean (from St. Anthony), there was a prominent feeling of home field advantage. Although the Canadian team had a strong emotional investment, from wanting to win gold on home soil to avenging a silver medal obtained in 2011, the event brought Tulk’s career full circle, as family and friends were on-hand. Having also served as a lead instructor at Blizzard Hockey, the hometown pride made Tulk an ambassador for the sport during this magical time.
“Winning a world title in itself is amazing, but having the opportunity to do so in front of your friends and family who have been there through all the ice hockey years was something truly special and was a once in a lifetime experience. It was overwhelming to have so much support from our home province during the event and was an experience that I will never forget.
Getting the opportunity to play with such outstanding athletes and hockey players was an honor and I feel blessed to have been able to do so. I think I speak for the other Newfoundlanders that played in 2013 as well (Amanda Kean, Kristen Cooze) when I say that the support from the fans that week played a large role in our motivation throughout the tournament.”
Although Tulk does not reside in Newfoundland anymore, there will always be an element of island pride in her heart. Making a new home in Northern Manitoba, the residents of her community have adopted Tulk as one of their own, taking great pride in her exceptional ball hockey career.
“This experience was equally special in different ways than 2013. This year I got to share the experience with my students and colleagues who were watching and supporting from Gillam School in Northern Manitoba. The support from the students and staff before and during the tournament was overwhelming and I am extremely grateful for it!”
With the 2015 edition of the World Women’s Street Hockey Championships taking place in Zug, Switzerland, it was an opportunity for Tulk and her teammates to embrace a new culture and acquire new memories. She was joined by fellow Newfoundlanders Kristen Cooze, April Drake and Amanda Kean, while Tom Walsh served as an assistant coach.
Although the level of competition remains high, the growing support for the game only adds to the excitement. With prominent women’s ice and street hockey program in Switzerland, the players on-hand felt a high energy that made the run to the gold medal even more special.
“Getting the chance to visit a new country and experience a different culture was something we will always remember. The host city and surrounding areas did an outstanding job on the entire event, and having the opportunity to play in front of thousands of people was something some of us had never experienced before.
The atmosphere throughout the city, during and after the event, was also incredible. While we had some returning players this year, we also had several new faces to get to know over the course of the event.”
In the aftermath of the gold medal game, Tulk had contributed a second period goal and a third period assist on a goal scored by Elysia Desmier. Fellow Newfoundlander Kristen Kooze scored the first goal of the game.
Tulk is quick to acknowledge that the camaraderie only adds to the prestige of competing in such a world-class event. It is part of the feeling of sportsmanship and fair play that Tulk embodies,
“Just like in 2013, our team grew extremely close over the 10 day event, and being able to win the championship with this group of teammates was incredible. The things I will take with me the most from these tournaments are the memories and friendships made off the floor. The teammates are what make the experience special and I am thankful to have been able to be surrounded by such an incredible group of women.”
Tulk tied for the tournament lead in scoring with 12 points, but was classified second overall due to the number of goals scored. As a side note, the Canadian team had five players ranked among the top ten scorers. In addition, Canadian-born Nicole Corriero, who competed with Team Italia, ranked sixth overall, resulting in six Canadians placing in the top ten.
Although Tulk ranked second, happiness was found in the fact that fellow Newfoundlander Amanda Kean ranked first overall, an essential contributor in the run for a second consecutive gold medal. Despite such a superlative performance, Tulk approaches it in a humble fashion, quick to graciously acknowledge the efforts of her line mates,
“As for being the second leading scorer, I credit that to my line mates and teammates, most of my points this time around came from assists, which only happen if you have someone with you who knows how to put the ball in the net. Like I said, it is an honor to play with such talented hockey players, and without the work of everyone on the team, winning the championship wouldn’t have been possible!”
Of note, 2015 has proven to be a remarkable year for women’s hockey in Newfoundland. From Sarah Davis becoming the first native of Newfoundland to compete for Canada at the IIHF Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships, to the astonishing accomplishments of Kean and Tulk, they have established themselves as role models for the game’s growth, on and off the ice.
Taking into account that Davis had a street named after her in her hometown of Paradise, it would only be fitting if such a similar honor was bestowed upon their ball hockey heroes. Tulk’s remarkable accomplishments are poised to have a mystifying hold on the myths that develop within time for the spot. Through it all, the chance to wear the Canadian jersey is what makes the experience so much more special.
“Putting on a Canadian jersey is a feeling like no other. No matter what sport or discipline you are representing, a Canadian jersey fills you with pride. I think if you were to ask anyone what it feels like to wear a Canadian jersey they would say the same. It is an honour to represent our country and is something I take great pride in.
Playing with such an amazing group of teammates and being a part of an event of this magnitude is something I do not take for granted. We never know when or if these opportunities will ever happen again in our lifetimes, so it was extremely special to have the chance to represent Canada in Zug, Switzerland this year.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo Description: (Left to right: Amanda Kean of St. Anthony, Dawn Tulk of Deer Lake, assistant coach Tom Walsh of Clarenville, April Drake of St. John’s/Long Cove and Kristen Cooze of Stephenville, pose with the trophy)