The Brock Women’s hockey team is off to an strong start to their season, registering a 6-5 record and ranking sixth place in the OUA West division. To put that into perspective, last year the team went 7-13-3 finishing ninth in their division and missing out on postseason action. Significant improvements were made at both ends of the ice so that the Badgers can look forward to a competitive season.
One major contributing factor to the team’s early success comes from the massive offensive output produced by Cara Sayles, Annie Berg and Christina Ieradi. At one point, this line was responsible for 65 per cent of all of the Badger’s offensive points. Currently, the line combines for 15 goals and 18 assists after 11 games. The Brock Press sat down with this triple threat line to highlight what makes them so effective as an offensive unit.
Ieradi started playing hockey at five years old, playing in a male league where she would remain until the age of 14. Ieradi took a victory lap to play another year of junior hockey with the Brampton Canadettes. Ieradi’s skills were noticed as she was selected to play in the 2010 Ontario Winter Games and she was scouted by Brock University during her 2013 season. Ieradi now has five goals, four assists and nine points in her third season with the Badgers.
Sayles started playing hockey in grade 12 and competed as a figure skater before her transition. She played single A in her Midget and inaugural season as a hockey player. Afterwards Sayles went to play for a few years of Junior hockey where she was ultimately scouted for several teams within the OUA. She decided to accept Guelph’s offer and played with the Gryphons for a year where they won the OUA championship. Sayles then transferred to Brock to be closer to home.
Sayles has registered five goals and seven assists for a total of 12 points after nine games. She is currently off the roster with a shoulder injury sustained in the first period of the Badger victory over Western on November 13. Sayles hopes to rejoin her line next weekend to play the last two games of the season before the Christmas break.
Berg is a St. Catharines native and grew up playing hockey in the city. Deciding she wanted to live close to home, Berg turned down offers to play for teams in the NCAA and began her academic and athletic career at Brock this past September. In her rookie year, Berg boasts an impressive four goals and seven assists in 10 games including two overtime winners against the Western Mustangs and the first place Nipissing Lakers.
The line was not put together until the third game of the season while the coaching staff was searching for chemistry.
“When we got in there after the first two games we came together and it just clicked right away. All of us are players that play with a lot of creativity. It is easy to play off each other,” commented Ieradi.
“We all have the same attitude towards hockey. We have a good time, you can always see us laughing on the bench. We’re very [relaxed], almost to the point where you wouldn’t expect us to be good together. We have a joke, ‘safety’s off’ and we say it all the time. We don’t want to focus on the negatives, we’re a positive line
and we support each other,” said Sayles.
The camaraderie between the line can be felt even just by the way they describe their pregame warm up.
“Sayles doesn’t like to have the same routine, Sayles does Sayles. But right at centre ice while I’m stretching and thinking of the game, Berg dangles around me then skates in and takes a shot on net,” recounted Ieradi. Being able to joke around allows the line to brush off misplays and stay positive during games.
“That’s what makes our line so good, it’s so unpredictable. We just fill in for each other wherever we have to. We’re the type of line who will grab the puck even in the defensive zone and get it out. We want to be in the offensive zone and we have quick transitions,” said Berg when asked why her line was so effective. “All of us can shoot, and pass, no one is the set playmaker or scorer. We just compliment each other.”
Teams all around the OUA are starting to pay more attention to the line. The added tension of high expectations, however, doesn’t effect the three players.
“It’s like we’re in our own little world, we don’t feel any pressure.” said Sayles.