Jake Cardwell has put on an impressive season for the Brock Men’s Hockey team, that has gone a long way to the teams success on and off the ice. He has been a key contributor every game putting up an assist or a goal in most games.
But before he became such a valuable assets for the Badgers, Cardwell used to play for the Carleton Ravens hockey team.
“I played in the OHL when I was 16,” said Cardwell. “So I was always away from home and just kind of wanted to be a home town kid and play in front of my parents. My grandparents are obviously getting older so its nice when family gets to see you play. I knew [Brock’s] defensive situation and to get the chance to play some good minutes right away is always nice. I’ve always had a thing for Brock and I’m from Niagara Falls so it’s nice to play at home for once.”
Since Cardwell’s transfer to Brock, his coach Murray Nystrom has been able to utilize Cardwell’s talents to benefit the team.
“To date, Cardwell has been very good for us, particularly from the offensive side of things,” said Nystrom. “We have been transitioning the last couple seasons to more of a skill based team so adding Cardwell was a good fit for the style we want to play.”
With Cardwell’s excellent performance thus far this season, his experience playing for another CIS team has become valuable to the Badgers.
“They are a well coached team, they’ve got good structure,” said Cardwell. I think there’s about eight guys on the team that play pro right now so we were a good team.”
As anyone would expect though, when you play against your previous team there has to be some tension between former players and fans. On Nov. 6, the Badgers took on Carleton – Cardwell’s previous team; in which he scored two goals against them.
“I know some of the commentary from the game my parents were listening and I was the villain, enemy number one,” Cardwell explained. “But it was fun. I was glad I was able to get two out of the way so I could get back to my game.”
“He was competing against some former teammates,” explained Nystrom. “I would describe it more as competitiveness than tension. Both sides played an extremely high paced, intense game.”
Certainly the transition from schools with both athletics and academics can be difficult transition but Cardwell’s situation has been smooth.
“Academics have been easier than being at Carleton,” said Cardwell. “Being at home I get to focus a little more, [and] family makes it a little easier on you because you don’t have to be as independent.”
Cardwell has also added a leadership aspect to the Badgers that has gone a long way to the teams chemistry.
“Cardwell is well respected by his teammates,” said Nystrom. “I think he recognizes the up-side we have as a group and after a year of not playing due to transfer rules, he wants the team to reach its potential.”
In terms of team goals, Nystrom said, “Our goal has been to focus on getting a little better each week, in different areas, and we’ve been doing that.”
Earlier Cardwell was named Brock’s Athlete of the Week due to his excellent performance in the game against Carleton.
“It’s a big honour, there’s a lot of Brock student-athletes so to be chosen as one of them is really cool especially due to my performance against my former team,” said Cardwell
In conjunction to his excellent performance, coach Murray mentioned that, “In Cardwell’s case he has been to a National Championship (2014 in Saskatoon) so he knows what it takes to excel at the highest level. He is a high energy, positive person and that type of spirit is contagious.”
As we all know, some give the hockey players the stereotype of being cocky and rude. But for those who have met Cardwell, they would see no such thing.
“Hockey is all a lot of us knew growing up,” explained Cardwell. “Since I was 15 it was hockey first then school – getting special treatment, and playing in front of thousands of fans can get to you. The harsh reality is not everyone is made for the pros and will need to get an education and the special treatment stops. It’s a good wake up check for guys myself included. I believe that guys in CIS are the farthest thing from cocky. Most have played at higher levels of hockey and are playing CIS now because we love the game not trying to be NHL superstars – people think we play because we cant give the dream up but it’s not that at all.”
Cardwell even reached a point where he thought of quitting hockey. Giving up his love for the sport, because the window of becoming a pro was closing.
“I contemplated quitting hockey and hanging them up, but the thing I missed most would be the friends I’ve made,” said Cardwell. “I believe we do not have egos on our team; we are here for an education like every other student and go to class like everyone else and work hard putting in time at the rink as well as on campus. The cocky attitude I believe is there just because we stick out sometimes in groups but that is just the brotherhood behind the sport.”
Cardwell is an extremely selfless individual that has significant hockey experience that he can use to help Brock lead the way to success. In the past he played in the OHL for the Ottawa 67’s, Sudbury Wolves and the Belleville Bulls so Cardwell has given a lot of his life to the sport.
Assisatnt Sports Editor