Heading into the 2015 CBHA Nationals, there was some Pacific pride supplied by the likes of star players such as Melanie Jue and Silvia Traversa. Having both competed for the Canadian contingent that captured gold at the 2015 ISBHF Worlds, their experience was invaluable for the British Columbia entry at the nationals.
Part of a core leadership group with the BC Benders, it represented a unique experience for Jue and Traversa. Of note, the Benders were not only an All-Star team, representing some of the finest that British Columbia had to offer, it marked the Bender’s first time representing British Columbia at the CBHA Nationals.
“I was picked up to play on this team. My club team is the Vancouver Sharks but I am glad to help out the Benders. For me, this is my tenth time at the nationals,” said Traversa.
Hailing from Richmond, British Columbia, Jue was the Benders leading scorer during preliminary round play, tied for third overall among all players. Held scoreless in only one game of the preliminaries, Jue provided consistent play during the event, including a multi-point performance against Newfoundland United on the opening day of the nationals.
Making her debut at the 2013 edition of the CBHA Nationals with the Vancouver Vipers, ball hockey served as an extension of Jue’s remarkable hockey abilities. She also took pride in the fact that she is helping to contribute to a sport that is still in its developmental stages,
“It is different with ball hockey as it is not a funded sport. It is great to be part of the program at the grass roots level. This team is different. We are not a league team but an All-Star team but I consider myself a leader in the way that I play, trying to set a positive example. I always play my best, no matter what the score is.”
Of note, Jue would find hockey stardom south of the border as a member of the Ivy League’s Cornell Big Red in Ithaca, New York. Equally versatile on the blueline and at the forward position, she was one of the players that helped propel Cornell into a national powerhouse. In four seasons with the Big Red, Jue logged 41 points on the strength of 29 assists.
Her final season (2009-10) was the most memorable, as she amassed a career-high 20 points, culminating with a two-goal effort in the epic 2010 NCAA Frozen Four title game against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. As a side note, she also competed with the Big Red on their field hockey team in 2009, ranking second in the NCAA in save percentage.
Zug represented Jue’s international debut in ball hockey. Of note, she would score her first two international goals in a 9-1 victory against Switzerland. Coincidentally, Traversa would score her first two goals of the tournament in that contest. Ten different Canadian players would register at least one point in that come.
“To play for Canada was a pretty surreal experience. Anytime you can wear the Maple Leaf on your jersey, it is the dream of any hockey player. Being able to be part of that is pretty special. I was really honored. It is really good to be part of the best female ball hockey players in Canada. It is something that I still can’t wrap my head around.”
With all six competing teams at the CBHA Nationals featuring at least one player from the world championship team in Zug, there was no shortage of familiar faces. Although competing against their Team Canada mates was all too obligatory, the feeling of competition was overshadowed by the mutual respect and the common bond of donning the Maple Leaf. As Traversa has enjoyed the privilege of competing for Canada at three different ISBHF World Championship events, an element of fun also defined her most recent experience,
“It was great to be able to play against them. It was fun to see my linemates from the nats. To be with Team Canada in 2015 was incredible. This is the second time that I have won it (the world championship). Every time is so special.”
During Team Canada’s opening game in Zug, a 10-0 win against Great Britain, Traversa provided a multi-point effort, assisting on a pair of goals by Jessie McCann. Canada’s second game, another 10-0 victory (this time against Italy) saw Traversa assist on a goal by Alicia Blomberg, while Jue and Amanda Kean would both earn the assists on the game’s opening goal, scored by Dawn Tulk. As Kean and Tulk were both members of Newfoundland United at the 2015 CBHA Nationals, Jue enjoyed being able to share in her experience at the nationals with them, among others,
“It is always fun. The whole town is filled with girls from Team Canada. A big reunion, but even with competition, it was definitely a great time.”
Like Jue, Traversa has managed a very impressive career on the ice. Competing with the Calgary Oval X-Treme during the 2001-02 season, the franchise would capture an Esso Women’s National Title in later years. After one season with the Oval X-Treme, she would also play with the Calgary Chargers of the Southern Alberta Women’s Hockey Association.
From 2005 to 2008, Traversa competed in the now-defunct Western Women’s Hockey League as a member of the BC Breakers. Two seasons with the Killarney Knights in the SCFHL reflected the twilight of her ice hockey career, although she managed to serve one season as an assistant coach with the Abbottsford Ice Bantam A Girls squad.
Upon her return to British Columbia, Jue would also take on a coaching role. A member of the renowned Pursuit of Excellence coaching staff, she would mentor some of the top female hockey players in the country.
During her ice hockey career, Traversa simultaneously built a remarkable reputation as a ball hockey player. Beginning with the Calgary Kaos and the Calgary Snafu ball hockey clubs in 2003 and 2004, Traversa joined the Vancouver Amazons for the beginning of their 2005 campaign.
Becoming one of the elite competitors in the Vancouver Female Ball Hockey League (VFBHL), Traversa carved a legacy that saw her represent British Columbia at the Ball Hockey Nationals for a remarkable string of 10 times. Perhaps more impressive was the fact that Traversa captured six BC provincial ball hockey championships in a period of nine years.
Jumping to the Vancouver Falcons in 2007, Traversa would proceed to spend three years with the Vancouver Hawks. Part of the Vancouver Sharks roster in 2011, Traversa set the standard for the seasons to come as one of the squad’s scoring leaders, consistently setting a positive example through hard work and dedication.
In between 2009 and 2011, Traversa would enjoy several career milestones. Competing for the Canadian contingent at the ISBHF World Championships in a golden effort in 2009, it was followed by silver in 2011. Those two trips to the podium were complemented by another special achievement. With the BC Hawks, Traversa competed in CBC’s 3-on-3 Play On Street Hockey tournament, garnering a national championship.
“I had played with Team Canada in 2009 when it was hosted in the Czech Republic, and then I was with the team in 2011 when the Worlds were contested in Slovakia. I had taken some time off but I wanted one last opportunity, and I was happy to make the team in 2015.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”