Photo By: Stephen Leithwood
With the cold weather approaching, Canada’s favorite winter sport’s season is starting up again for the Badgers women’s hockey team.
With a shorter exhibition pre-season than usual, the Badgers have completed their three game pre-season (2L 1W) and are preparing to play at the University of Windsor on November 5 and 6 for their season opening games.
The team does have a slightly shorter season than in previous years, with 20 regular-season games, five exhibition games, three rounds of playoffs, the McCaw Cup, and the U Sports Championships.
Despite this year’s pre-season only consisting of three exhibition games instead of the usual six, the Badgers aren’t fazed. Nothing is stopping these hungry athletes from getting out on the ice and playing the sport they love.
“We just want to play. Access to the ice during the pandemic was difficult for a lot of the girls. The games are always close and always a battle, no real blowouts which are awesome. You go into a game and it’s awesome, good teams through and through,” said head coach Margot Page.
Page, who has 35 years of coaching experience under her belt, is a former-player-turned-coach. Her journey to Brock began when she was working in NCAA DI in the United States, when she was doing consulting. Page began helping the Brock women’s hockey team with skill development and mentorship and then was offered the job as head coach when the position became available.
Right now though, Page is focused on taking things one game at a time.
“Everyone asks how the team is. They are fun, they are in good shape, they are all the same. Until you step on that ice and compete against the other teams you don’t even really know how the team is,” said Page. “They have to warm up as players who have been off the ice for so long, they need to remember what it’s like to play on a team.”
There are a lot of new athletes on Brock’s women’s hockey team, as there are two recruiting classes who have yet to step foot on the ice and play due to the pandemic. While this can mean a big learning curve, it also means that there’s lots of potential, as with more practice and in-game experience, things will only continue to improve over time.
“It’s the process rather than the outcome, that’s our focus. The complete fracture is always going to exist, the depth in how we play, that is going to make the team strong rather than individual athletes,” said Page.
Over the COVID-19 pandemic, the team stayed busy with lots of handling sessions. They had the pleasure of working with lead sport performance coach Vicky Bendus, from the Brock Sports Performance Program (BSPC) who would help immensely by running workouts and skill sessions.
“The thing that most likely kept the athletes motivated for the season was the amount of communication I tried to have with them at all times,” added Page. “I tried focusing on what we need to do and what we want to accomplish to try and keep these girls motivated. Mentally, physically, still being part of the team, still getting what we need, the girls were sick of online, the workouts, meetings, classes it was all online it was all too much.”
Everyone, from Page and the rest of the coaching staff to the players, are just happy to be back; to have an opportunity to play the game they love once again. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake.
Catch the Brock women’s hockey team at their home opener versus Wilfrid Laurier University on November 11th at 7 pm for their home opener at Seymour Hannah Sports Complex.