Susana Yuen still recalls going to a sporting goods store in Ottawa to buy a new stick for the first-ever International Ice Hockey Federation world women’s hockey championship.
The Winnipegger and her teammates on Canada’s 1990 squad hated the twigs given to them by tournament organizers so much that they went out and purchased their own.
Yuen, the lone woman inducted into Manitoba’s Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019, says when the shop owner found out what the stick was to be used for, he refused to charge her.
The new wooden weapon did the trick.
The diminutive University of Manitoba grad scored five goals and assisted on seven others during the world championship, as Canada stormed to the gold medal. Her six-point performance against Germany in a 17-0 victory stood as a national team record until 2007.
"That was a pretty special night. I went for a massage that day, we went and got our new sticks. That was the night I got six points," she said. "Remember, this was really the beginning. We had these heavy, thick pieces of lumber, super stiff. We didn’t like them, at all."
More than 9,000 spectators watched as Team Canada — sporting pink jerseys with a stylized maple leaf, white pants and pink socks — defeated the United States 5-2 in the championship game. Yuen’s goal at 10:14 of the third period provided Canada with a two-goal cushion.
"I guess it was special. But I watch the women now and think, ‘Oh my God, how the game has evolved.’ The skill, the speed of the game, it’s amazing, it’s phenomenal," said Yuen, who played basketball and ringette as a youngster but didn’t switch to hockey until she was 18 and starting university.
So, where’s the hardware being housed? In a Hall of Fame somewhere? Framed on the mantel?
"I moved a few years ago. It’s in a tupperware box," she said, laughing. "I need to get it out."
That championship sparked immediate interest in hockey by females from coast to coast. Women’s ice hockey was added to the Olympics eight years later.
"I guess we were forerunners. But when we were doing it, it was just for the love of the game," Yuen said.
Assistant sports editor
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