The last couple weeks have been quite successful for the Brock Women’s Hockey team both on and off the ice. Along with winning four of their last six games, the Badgers announced last week that one of Canada’s top under-18 players had committed to their program.
The success on the ice has given the Badgers new life to possibly making the playoffs this season. Now, with 17-year old Annie Berg officially joining Brock University for 2016-17, the women’s hockey team has something to look forward to next season as well.
Berg, from Beamsville, Ontario turned down a Division 1 NCAA scholarship from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York in favour of Brock as her destination to continue her hockey career.
Her change of heart came during a campus tour of Brock, where she was able to get a first look at the campus. Brock’s President Jack Lightstone took time out of his day to meet with Berg as well.
“It was a tough decision and you have to think about it a lot,” said Berg. “I really value the education here in Canada.”
Berg will be studying Concurrent Education when she starts her studies at Brock come this fall. She referenced that Brock having a strong con-ed program made the decision a lot easier.
Berg is also excited to play for Brock Women’s head coach Margot Page and associate head coach Sara Bauer. Page’s background and knowledge of hockey Canada was of interest to Berg. She also got a chance to play at the IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championships earlier this year.
With team Canada, Berg scored a goal in five games leading to a silver medal after losing to the Americans 3-2 in the finals. The tournament was held here in St. Catharines, giving Berg a taste of playing in the Niagara city.
“Being able to play in front of the home crowd is an unbelievable feeling I will never forget,” said Berg.
“Absolutely a rush to put on the jersey for the first time and that team Canada logo right on the front.”
Berg’s family has a history of hockey success, as her father is a former NHLer from the St. Catharines area. Bill Berg played ten seasons in the NHL, including 196 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 48-year old was drafted by the New York Islanders, but also had seasons with the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators. He finished his career with 55 goals and 67 assists. He played in 61 playoff games, including the 1993 playoffs when the Leafs lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the Conference Finals.
“Huge impact,” said Annie Berg when talking about the influence her father has played on her career. “Always nice to come home to someone who understands the game and understands what you’re going through. Always giving you some help with aspects of the game as well the mental part.”
This season the Badgers team is averaging 1.53 goals per game, which is second last in the OUA. With Berg, a forward, the Badgers hope their goal scoring can see a boost come next season.
“Just hopefully next year I can fit in well, build chemistry with the team and hopefully we make the playoffs,” said Berg.
Her offensive skill set will certainly help the Badgers out as she’ll become the face of the program in her freshmen year. If the women’s team shows huge improvements come next season, Berg could see herself as the face of Brock’s athletics as an entirety.
It’s not every day a player turns down offers from the NCAA to play in the CIS, but Berg’s decision could change that for future collegiate athletes. Her decision could also make Brock a destination for future athletes, especially for women’s hockey.
“Coming in as a freshman, just hope for the best and hope things click,” said Berg about her expectations for year one.
This season is not over for the Badgers, as they are only nine points out of a playoff spot with five games left. However, next season already has a buzz around campus and Berg will have people around Brock and outside of the region watching.