By Mark Staffieri
In a league where many of its goaltenders are accustomed to suiting up for their respective national country, Liz Knox is quietly emerging as one of the league?۪s finest. Knox first came to prominence as a member of the Laurier Golden Hawks of Canadian Interuniversity Sport. She had the opportunity to don the Maple Leaf as she represented Canada at the 2011 Winter Universiade. Knox stood between the pipes in a gold medal effort for Team Canada, which also featured current CWHL players Ann-Sophie Bettez and Cathy Chartrand.
Along with Team Alberta goaltender Kim Deschenes (formerly of the Moncton Aigles Bleues), the two are proving that the goaltenders of the CIS are great building blocks for a CWHL franchise. The culmination of her remarkable 2010-11 season with Laurier came when she was awarded the Brodrick Trophy, awarded to the Most Outstanding Player in CIS. Other prominent winners of the Brodrick Trophy include Kim St. Pierre and Hayley Wickenheiser.
???Winning the Brodrick Trophy was definitely a highlight of my career as a Golden Hawk. Women?۪s Hockey in the CIS has such an incredible pool of talent that I was admittedly stunned to receive the award. That season was one of my personal best but more than that, I had an incredible group of girls playing in front of me. We were all on the same page, game in and game out. Having a team with that kind of confidence helps everyone play their best; it worked for me!?
Knox was a key factor in the Brampton hockey club returning to the Clarkson Cup finals in 2012. In addition, Knox became the first rookie goaltender to appear in a Clarkson Cup final. ???Playing in the Clarkson Cup final as a rookie was an experience unlike any other. The host, Niagara Falls, did such an incredible job publicizing the event which made for large crowds to play in front of and an exciting atmosphere.?
???Throughout the tournament, I felt surprisingly poised and just focused on enjoying the opportunity to play with and against some of the most talented players in the world. The final game (the whole tournament for that matter) was packed with back and forth, chance for chance hockey. It was a thrill.?
With the 2012 CWHL Draft being one that helped to provide the CWHL with its next generation of superstars, Knox was very impressed with the crop of rookie talent that now dons the Brampton sweater. ???I am very excited to see the addition of our rookies this year. All three rookies bring an incredible amount of skill and creativity to their respective positions. Bailey Bram?۪s long stride gives her a lot of speed and she has the shot and play-making capabilities to match it! Laura McIntosh has some of the best on-ice vision I have ever seen in women?۪s hockey. The two of them together are a real offensive threat. Apart, they make the players around them better.?
One of those rookies, former Princeton Tigers blueliner Charissa Stadnyk is looking to emerge as a big part of Brampton?۪s blueline. ???On the back end, Stadnyk is a solid smart defenseman. She knows when to take chances and when to cover the fort. She?۪s an all-round good personality to have on the ice and in the locker-room.?
There is no question that Brampton?۪s remarkable rookies will be essential in contributing to the franchise?۪s success. While Knox continues to emerge as an elite goaltender, she is quick to acknowledge the increased level of competition. ???The CWHL this year is more competitive than ever. The draft brought a lot of talent to the league, as will drafts to come. Each year the gap between the top and bottom gets smaller and smaller.?
In the most unexpected move of the 2012-13 season, Montreal Stars draft pick (and Swiss national team goaltender) Florence Schelling was loaned to Brampton for the remainder of the season. While the move could have easily created a goaltending controversy, Knox has approached it with remarkable maturity and acumen.
???Florence is truly a world class athlete. We?۪ve only known each other for a few weeks now but I can?۪t say enough about her. A very talented goalie who will consistently give the team a chance to win. Always a positive attitude around the arena. I couldn?۪t ask for anything more in a goalie partner: we push each other to be better and are supportive in each others?۪ time to shine.?
As Brampton now boasts two world class goaltenders, there is certainly an expectation to return back to the Clarkson Cup finals. Knox understands the importance of the regular season in being a factor towards Brampton attempting to win that elusive Clarkson Cup. ???To see ourselves in the Clarkson Cup finals, we have to first take care of our responsibilities in regular season. Literally, every game can mean the difference of a team making or missing playoffs. Second, we need to make sure that we are working to be our best in post-season. Once you?۪re down to the final four, it really boils down to making as few critical mistakes as possible and capitalizing on those of the opposition.?