2021  w w c  ambrose  walker  feature
Sean Walker, Chris Tierney and Erin Ambrose (l-r) pose with the All-Ontario championship trophy as members of the York Simcoe Express.

Keswick goes for gold – again

Three months after Sean Walker won a gold medal at the IIHF World Championship, Erin Ambrose is trying to bring a second title to her hometown

Lee Boyadjian
August 20, 2021

Nestled off Cook’s Bay, at the southern tip of Lake Simcoe about an hour north of Toronto, is Keswick, Ontario. It’s a little hockey hotbed, producing some major professional stars, and if the fates are fair this summer, it might be the hometown of not one, but two world champions.

“Maybe there’s something in the water in Keswick, I don’t know what it is,” laughs Sean Walker, a gold medallist with Canada’s National Men’s Team at the 2021 IIHF World Championship.

“When I was watching, I was like ‘Oh my gosh!’ even though I knew he was there,” says Erin Ambrose, a blue-liner with Canada’s National Women’s Team. “And then once I saw him with the trophy, I was like, ‘Holy crow, Seany’s a gold medallist!’ which is awesome.”

Walker and Ambrose grew up as teammates and friends in the small Ontario town. Playing first with the Georgina Blaze and then the York Simcoe Express, Walker remembers his excitement when he got to play alongside Ambrose for the first time.

“Immediately she was a standout on our team, one of our best players for sure,” Walker, a Los Angeles Kings defenceman, says. “She scored, defended well, she did it all.

“We always thought she would play for Team Canada at some point.”

Ambrose made her debut with Team Canada in 2009 with the National Women’s Under-18 Team, scoring twice and adding an assist in a three-game series against the United States. She went on to play in three IIHF U18 Women’s World Championships (the only Canadian to ever do so), picking up two golds and a silver medal.

At the senior level, Ambrose has silver and bronze medal from the IIHF Women’s World Championship and is looking to complete the set in Calgary.

“Those other two colours are there and we’re obviously super fortunate and thankful to be a part of those groups, but there’s one we’re definitely missing and we’re going for it,” Ambrose says.

“I don’t think she would be too happy if I’m the only one with a gold,” Walker laughs, pointing out that his former teammate already has two medals from the top-division worlds. “She’s competitive and she’s going to want to be matching [my gold medal] and then she can say she’s got more medals than me for sure.”

Walker suited up for the first time with Team Canada this spring and was part of one of the greatest come-from-behind stories in Canadian hockey history, starting 0-3 but going on to win the gold medal. He agrees there are slight parallels in his team’s journey to success as with the women’s team, though acknowledges their path has been much longer.

“They’ve had a tough go with the worlds getting cancelled and their pro leagues getting shut down, but they just keep on bouncing back and persevering and finding a way to make it work,” Walker says of Ambrose and her teammates going for gold.

“Obviously we struggled, so hopefully that can be an inspiration to them to not give up and anything can really happen when you’re in that kind of format.”

Ambrose and Walker played in dozens of tournaments together over their minor hockey careers, often with great success. The 1994-born group with the Express also included fellow Keswick product Chris Tierney, a seven-year National Hockey League (NHL) veteran who has spent the past four seasons with the Ottawa Senators. Ambrose believes it was with that team she first learned how to win.

“My last year, we won the [Ontario Minor Hockey Association championship] and that was kind of the coolest way to go out for me,” she says. “I know when the group of us moved from Georgina to York Simcoe … we were a big cornerstone … Seany and I on the back end.”

While the childhood nickname “Seany” still comes out instinctively from Ambrose, she says the two don’t talk as often as they could. But they do both keep tabs on the other, watching and cheering for their fellow hometown hero.

“To see both of us come out of a small town and where we started and where we are today is definitely something to be proud of,” Walker says, while sending good luck to Ambrose. “Everybody already knows she’s going to do great.”

“It’s been a long journey, I think, for both of us in a lot of different ways,” Ambrose finishes. “It’s pretty cool to see that our paths continue to cross, all the way from Keswick.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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