'Closing the dream gap': Dozens hit the ice in Toronto in support of women's hockey

People of all ages turned out in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal on Saturday in support of the future of women's hockey in Canada, months after the collapse of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL).

Professional women's hockey players Sydney Kidd and Emma Greco were among the Torontonians who laced up their skates at the Natrel Rink, Harbourfront Centre.

The two reflected on the May 2019 collapse of the CWHL, which left top female players with nowhere to train, no opportunity to compete and no access to the resources, facilities or coaching staff the sport demands. 

"It was devastating," Kidd told CBC News.

"We honestly didn't see it coming and it was really a shock because we thought there had been so much progress made and we had grown such a great fan base. All of a sudden everything was gone."

Talia Ricci/CBC

Greco said she too was devastated.

"It was my first year playing professionally and I really enjoyed it and was really excited about next year. We were talking to other players about how the team was going to look and we thought we had a bright future," she said.

The women say events like Saturday's skate rally are important to build awareness and show support for women's hockey.

"We're bringing awareness to closing the dream gap between what young boys and girls can aspire to [or] dream to be, and hoping to bring awareness into what it takes to become a professional woman hockey player," Kidd said.

Meanwhile, Greco said, "It's important just to bring up the visibility and the awareness. A lot of people don't even know what we're trying to do."

Keith Burgess/CBC

Judy Cameron started playing hockey at the age of 40 and didn't even know how to skate, but today she was among those hitting the ice for the free family-friendly skate.

She said her primary reason for turning out was to show support to the professional women's hockey league.

"They should get funding, they should have all the equal rights of men… we need to get more behind them," Cameron said.