Brock University’s ball hockey competitive club is without a doubt the most dominant team in Southern Ontario and arguably the whole of Eastern Canada. Since the Ontario University Ball Hockey League (OUBHL) was created back in the 2015/2016 season, Brock has clinched the only provincial championship and finished top of the league the two years it has run. The first season, Brock went 13-1-2 in the regular season and went undefeated throughout the playoffs. The inaugural season also saw Brock set a league record for the highest win streak at 26 consecutive victories. This year the team is looking to repeat their success as they currently have a 14-1 record with three more regular season games in the 2017 schedule. With this record, the Badgers have already secured the first place in the league heading into the playoffs which will begin in March.
Adam White, a fifth year Concurrent Education student, is the current president of Brock’s ball hockey club. Much like many of the other players on the team, White got his start in ice hockey playing in his local minor hockey league. White’s talents in ball hockey were noticed during an intramural game hosted by Brock’s athletic and recreation department back in 2013. The referee of the intramural game was the goaltender for the Brock ball hockey team and he asked White if he was interested in joining after his performance in the Ian Beddis Gymnasium. White’s industrious nature and leadership on and off the floor propelled him to take on the presidential role four years later. The Brock Press sat down with White to discuss the ball hockey team.
One foundational piece of the puzzle for the Brock ball hockey team is its consistently stellar goaltending.
“We’ve always had great goaltending,” said White. “We’ve had three goalies in the past four years and we’ve always been fortunate to have the best goalie in the league every year. We have two goalies now, Jeff Heartwell and Pat Martin, and both players have been unreal for us all season long.”
With the defensive end of the floor always secure, the Badgers are afforded ample opportunities to put pressure at the other end as the team records a flurry of shots every game. The team’s offense is led by two Tier 1 ball hockey players, Anthony Loveless and Andrew Jegg. These two players produce the majority of goals for the team and bring a level of experience that many other teams in the OUBHL lack.
Although Brock’s current end to end game is solid, what really sets the team apart from the rest of the pack and what makes them such a force to be reckoned with is the fact that this Badgers team was founded in the late 2000’s by Brock associate professor of kinesiology, Réné Vandenboom. While every other team in the league only started up their programs within the past four years, Vandenboom has been recruiting hockey players through networking with students for almost a decade. Since the team has been established so effectively, White’s club is able to field both a competitive team as well as an affiliate team to develop talent while most other teams struggle with numbers on their roster. White believes that lack of exposure for the fledgling league is to blame. Others assuredly can’t see the significant difference between ball and ice hockey that make them two related but very unique sports.
“The main difference between ice and ball hockey is the running,” explained White. “In one tournament, the Guelph Gryphons brought their varsity ice hockey team and we beat them because they couldn’t keep up with the running. Running is such a big part of the game.”
All together, Brock has been playing varsity level ball hockey for four years. Before the OUBHL, the team played in multiple tournaments held throughout the year. In all four years they have never missed out on the finals and have only lost one title in overtime to the Waterloo Warriors back in the 2014/2015 season. As of now there are four teams in the OUBHL: Brock, Carleton, McMaster and Waterloo. However, since the inception of the Provincial league schools like the University of Toronto, Guelph, Queen’s and Ottawa University are all in the process of putting programs together for the 2017/2018 season.
In the future, ball hockey players hope to get their sport OUA status. Brock’s ball hockey team just voted in their president for their next season, Josh Soares, and it will be up to him and his team to provide the example of what a successful ball hockey program looks like for the rest of the Ontario Universities. “The Brock team is an example of what ball hockey can look like not only in Ontario but all over Canada. Vandenboom is all over this trying to get us OUA status and he’s done a lot to grow the sport,” said White.
If you would like to watch and support the Brock Badgers ball hockey team check their Facebook page for their schedule as admission to games is free.