While the 2014 Sochi Winter Games allowed Lyndsey Fry the opportunity to be the first native from Arizona to play for the US women’s hockey team in the event’s history, there is another unique facet of her journey. Carrying the jersey of a fallen friend with her to Sochi truly puts into perspective the meaning of sportsmanship and the value of friendship.
For the native of Chandler, Arizona, a deeper look reveals that Fry’s road to hockey glory was greatly influenced by a remarkable individual and cherished friend named Liz Turgeon. After playing on junior boys teams in Chandler, the realization that she had to elevate her game out of state led her to Colorado. She would first encounter Turgeon when the two joined the Colorado Selects travel team. Quickly becoming kindred spirits, the bonds of friendship would define their tenure with the Selects.
Possessing similar goals and ambitions, both dreamed that their paths would culminate in roster spots for the US at the Winter Games. Turgeon would be the first to experience a taste of international hockey with a spot on the US Under-18 team that competed at the inaugural IIHF Under-18 Women’s Worlds in 2008.
Ironically, Fry tried out for the 2008 edition of the team and was not selected for the final roster. While the historic event would provide Turgeon with a gold medal, a twist of fate resulted in a role reversal. In 2009, it was Fry, and not Turgeon, who earned the nod in another gold medal effort for the US. Despite this bizarre turn of events, the two would continuously believe in each other and refuse to give up on their Winter Games dream.
Coming from great hockey bloodlines, Turgeon’s father and uncle both had ties to the NHL. Her uncle, Sylvain was a competitor with the Hartford Whalers and played with the Ottawa Senators in their inaugural season. Pierre Turgeon, Liz’s father, was the first overall pick in the 1987 NHL Draft. As a side note, he was also the captain of the Montreal Canadiens in their final game at the Montreal Forum.
In the latter part of his playing career, he would see his daughter take up his love for hockey. During a brief tenure with the Dallas Stars, his daughter would compete in Pee Wee boys’ hockey in the Lone Star State. With his last NHL stint as a member of the Colorado Avalanche, the area would serve as a backdrop for the future of Turgeon and Fry’s careers. Of note, Pierre served as their head coach for the Colorado Selects.
Although Fry’s tenure in Colorado would place her on U.S. medal-winning teams at the IIHF Under-18 Women’s Worlds in 2009 and 2010; the friendship that existed between her and Turgeon would take an unexpected turn. An automobile accident in New Mexico on December 23, 2010 would have a profound impact on both the Fry and Turgeon families as Liz lost her life.
Suddenly, the dream of competing at the NCAA level together was disrupted. Going in different directions, Fry was to depart for Harvard, while Turgeon committed to the University of Minnesota. At a personal crossroads, Fry employed soul searching to determine if she wanted to continue playing.
The support of the Harvard Crimson program was also crucial in allowing Fry the time to decide on the next step of her journey. Eventually suiting up for the Crimson, Fry was a 2012-13 All-Ivy League second team selection. While she had to forego the 2013-14 Harvard campaign in order to compete at Sochi, she did so with a unique approach.
One of Turgeon’s U18 Team USA jerseys was discovered by an executive at USA Hockey. Turgeon’s mother, Elizabeth, who remains in very close contact with Fry, made the emotional decision to have her hold on to the jersey. Bringing it with her throughout Team USA’s 2013-14 Bring on the World Tour; Fry has also brought Turgeon’s jersey to Sochi with her. The accompaniment of the jersey holds a very heartfelt meaning for Fry, as it represents that Turgeon is spiritually with her.
While the aftermath of Sochi will see the result of nations colliding in the endless struggle for hockey supremacy, Fry’s heart-warming and touching story will forever comprise the all-too human side of sport. The meaning of friendship for her is such that it encompasses a maturity and tremendous outlook on life that erodes the conflicts which takes place on the frozen surface.
Image obtained from EspnW. Left to right: Valerie Turgeon, Lyndsey Fry (holding the jersey of Liz Turegon) and Alex Turgeon