The word dynasty isn’t thrown around lightly. But when the same team is able to go three years with lots of turnover in personnel and consistently secure a championship banner, dynasty is the best word to describe these Badgers.
At the BallHockey.com facility in St. Catharines on March 10 and 11, the Brock Badgers Men’s Ball Hockey team strolled through the championship tournament, defeating the Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday by a score of 5-3, then defeating the Carleton Ravens 4-2. The Badgers would end up playing the Golden Hawks in the championship game on Sunday, winning 6-3.
After conceding the first goal to Laurier early in the first period, Brock’s sniper and Canadian National Team member, Anthony Loveless, scored twice, once on a powerplay, to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
In a tense second period, Loveless would get another point as he assisted on Adam Kirchmayer’s shorthanded goal that gave the Badgers a two-goal lead, just 20 minutes away from their third consecutive championship.
After Laurier cut the lead to one early in the third period to make things interesting, Brock would score twice in the span of 35 seconds to kill any chance of a Golden Hawks comeback and win the championship. In the dying seconds, Loveless would score on the empty net to conclude the championship hat-trick and would be awarded the OUBHL Championship’s Most Valuable Player award for his three goals and two assists on the 6-3 victory.
“We got better as the season went on, which is key,” said head coach Rene VanDenboom. “The season was kind of difficult, because it was a tournament format, so we didn’t play every week, but we would have a tournament about once a month. It was hard to get on a roll.”
In the Ontario University Ball Hockey League (OUBHL), competing schools take turns hosting tournaments that count towards round-robin play, with the top two teams at the end of the year playing in a championship playoff game to determine who wins the OUBHL Championship.
“Everybody, by the end of the year, knew their jobs and did their jobs,” said VanDenboom. “The guys that we expected to score, scored. The guys that were more defensive, grinders, that’s what they did. Everybody was really good at what they did. We didn’t just have the best scorers, we had the best defensemen too. That’s a key thing, because you don’t just want to outscore the opponent, you want to outplay them.”
This mantra of delving deeper beneath the scoresheet is a collective attitude of the team that VanDenboom holds very important. Although it might not show up in the numbers, the head coach wanted to specifically highlight Chris Grenier for his all-around performance (although Grenier did add in two assists in the championship game).
“He played every game and he played very well wherever we put him. He never complained, even when my coaching was less than stellar. He’s just the type of guy that you wish you could have 20 of them.”
The Badgers also had another advantage in the championship; playing at home in the nearby BallHockey.com arena. “It’s by far the best facility we play in,” said VanDenboom.
“It’s a very nice environment to play in. It has the best atmosphere for ball hockey. We play there so often, that we feel like we’re really hard to beat when we’re there, just because we have so much experience on the floor.”
After three straight championships, this program shows no signs of slowing down and should intimidate any of the other ball hockey teams in the OUBHL. “We’re really, really, confident [that the team can repeat a championship]. The main reason is although we’re losing a key few guys, 90 per cent of the team is coming back. With the foundation that is coming back, which is very good, and the potential of finding new guys, which is getting better every year, I think next year’s team will be even better than this year.”