Liz Duval’s hockey journey began in Penetanguishene in the 1980s, including provincial championships and professional games in Switzerland
Liz Duval fondly remembers playing hockey in Penetanguishene Bay as a child.
Her father, Medore Duval, made sure the patch of ice in front of their house was crystal clear and ready for Liz, her brother Art and their friends as they attached the blades. As youngsters, they easily imagined they were the next Mike Palmateer, Ian Turnbull or Darryl Sittler as they zigzagged and zagged along the slick surface.
Art Duval added: “Our father, sump pump and shovel, would become an expert ice-maker, and she (Liz) would book friends to come and play with her morning, noon and night.”
Hockey would become an important part of Liz Duval’s childhood and young adult life, creating a vast collection of happy memories, fun adventures and lifelong friendships as she played for hockey teams. high caliber from Canada to Switzerland.
His hockey prowess also paved the way for his recent induction into the North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Famea United States-based organization created to honor and recognize outstanding leadership and achievement in individual and team athletics.
“It’s a huge honor,” Duval said, noting that the gym includes many other big-name athletes, including some who have competed professionally.
“One of the things that really strikes me as quite remarkable about this Hall of Fame is that it seems to be pretty inclusive with the breadth of sports. It’s really about celebrating accomplishment, which is really neat.
Duval, who is Métis and also a member of the Penetanguishene and University of Guelph sports halls of fame, began her organized hockey career at the age of about 11 and became one of only two girls allowed to play on a Penetanguishene boys minor hockey team.
“I played a year with the boys when it really wasn’t the thing to do,” said Duval, who turned 50 last summer.
While attending Penetanguishene High School in the 1980s, she focused primarily on playing school sports like volleyball and basketball.
But after a time without playing organized hockey, Duval adapted again years later for the Penetang Petras women’s team in 12th grade before playing with a women’s team in Huntsville.
“There were more girls my age (in Penetang) and several older ladies playing as well,” Duval says, noting that while the hockey wasn’t at the highest level, it gave it a taste. organized hockey and prepared it. for the move to Huntsville.
Medore Duval, who died last year, drove his daughter from their home in Penetanguishene to the town of Muskoka for games and practices and sometimes further.
She cherishes those memories of morning walks with her father, whom she credits with shaping her into the player she would become.
“He was extremely instrumental,” Duval says. “He worked hard all his life. But one Sunday morning, which was one of those rare days off he had, we were in the car at seven o’clock, stopping for coffee and going to Sudbury for a game. We were leaving in the dark and coming home in the dark.
This experience has also given him greater visibility within the hockey community. At the time, women’s hockey was not as prevalent in the region as it is today, with established teams more likely to be found in larger centers in Southern Ontario.
And while still a teenager, Duval was selected to play on a regional team that would compete in the 1988 Ontario Winter Games in North Bay.
“None of us had ever been exposed to this level of competition before,” says Duval, who has lived in Hamilton for 20 years and works for the Department of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries of the province as a community development advisor.
But the Huntsville and Winter Games experiences opened doors for her and helped her rise to prominence, Duval recalls, noting that after graduating from high school, she was recruited to play women’s varsity hockey. at the University of Guelph.
“We played a few tournaments and that’s where I was recruited by university coaches,” she says. “Because women’s hockey was not yet an Olympic sport, there were very few scholarship opportunities in the United States.”
His hockey skills were above average and soon many people noticed his exceptional game, Bert Mason of the Penetanguishene Sports Hall of Fame wrote in his nomination letter to the North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame as he highlighted Duval’s hockey journey.
Duval served as captain for her final three years at Guelph while leading her teammates in scoring during that time. She was selected as an Ontario Women’s Interuniversity Athletic Association (OWIAA) All-Star for each of the four years she played with the Gryphons.
During the 1994-95 season, she led the Gryphons to the OWIAA championship in addition to being named team MVP and runner-up for college sportswoman of the year. All this time she continued to play in a club team.
Art Duval recounts a thrilling game between Guelph and the University of Toronto Blues, the favored team to win the provincial university title.
“After a long delay due to an ice problem, Guelph would be tied before third,” he recalled. “With four and a half minutes remaining, Sarah Applegarth, who had a hunch to score, did just that and sent the Gryphons ahead.
“For four and a half minutes, the Blues sent them everything but the Guelph first line, who held on, Liz taking an incredible number of matchups against one of the best women’s college teams of all time and missing the time.
“’I remember it like it was yesterday’, my mother (Annette) remembers us telling her. She was there, but in the tradition of hockey moms everywhere, she was in the lobby with instructions to “come tell me when it’s over.”
After graduating from college with a Bachelor of Science in Human Kinetics, Duval played for the Mississauga Chiefs of the Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League from 1993 to 2000.
In 1996, she scored the game-winning goal in overtime, helping the Chiefs win the Ontario Senior AA hockey title.
Later in her career, she accepted the opportunity to play professional women’s hockey in Switzerland with DHC Lyss, just north of Bern.
“I was able to play in different parts of Europe,” she says, noting that as one of two foreign-born players on the team, she was also given an apartment, a car and a small salary as well as a part-time job.
“We played against several national teams, I remember playing against the Latvian national team. It was a fantastic experience.”
She completed her career with three seasons in the new National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) with the Mississauga Ice Bears, retiring in 2001.
Former national team member Andria Hunter says it was a real pleasure to play as Duval’s teammate in the NWHL.
“She was a talented two-way player who always gave 100 per cent,” Hunter said. “She was a catalyst who had a knack for making things happen, especially in important matches.”