By Mark Staffieri, CWHL
After facing a summer in which they endured a second Clarkson Cup finals loss in three years, the Brampton hockey club entered training camp with a renewed focus. "We were very happy with the way our group came in prepared to compete right on day one," said General Manager Jody Katz.
One of the biggest changes for the team was a new head coach, its third in three seasons. Rick Traugott served at Trinity College School in head coaching capacities varsity girls and boys hockey teams. His 27 plus years of coaching and on-ice instruction are an asset to the squad.
Traugott has the benefit of coaching two of the finest players in the world, Gillian Apps and Jayna Hefford. "Coaching athletes like Hefford and Apps would be a thrill for any coach. They come to the rink with unbelievable work ethic, skill level and focus every day." It is that type of skill and focus that has made an impression on rookies in the camp, such as Laura MacIntosh. "Being surrounded by many great players was intimidating at first, but try outs have been fun and I feel like I am learning a lot from many of the vets."
Heading into training camp, the Brampton hockey club had to accept that third pick overall (and 2010 Winter Games gold medalist) Haley Irwin would not be competing with them. Having asked for a release, Irwin joined the Montreal Stars. "There was nothing personal," stated Irwin. "Brampton was very professional."
Despite the visceral loss of Irwin, the squad could still boast the likes of considerable draft picks. Brampton?۪s future comes in the form of touted picks such as Suzanne Fenerty (a former captain at St. FX), Bailey Bram (2012 National Team member), Laura MacIntosh (Ohio State?۪s all-time leading scorer) and Charissa Stadnyk (from the Princeton Tigers).
Stadnyk, a young defender will benefit greatly from the tutelage of Courtney Birchard. "Training camp has been an unbelievable experience so far. The combination of first-class players with knowledgeable, goal-orientated coaches has made for some great ice times." She has a wonderful respect for the game. "The level of play is definitely a step-up from the NCAA, which is no surprise, considering the illustrious players on Brampton, but they have all been welcoming and a pleasure to play with."
Part of winning comes from cultivating the right attitude. It is an attitude that has carried over to the rookies hoping to represent Brampton. "I feel grateful to have been drafted by Brampton and am ecstatic about the chance to play with such skillful players," said Stadnyk. "Camp has been going great and it’s very exciting to get back into the hockey season," mentioned MacIntosh. Something not lost on Katz, "I commend my staff for creating that culture from the day they were hired, and expect great things this year."
"For me, it was a tremendous two weeks of camp, working with a terrific group of athletes and culminating in the exhibition game with Toronto," stated Traugott. While the road to the Clarkson Cup will definitely go through a powerhouse Montreal squad, Brampton is more focused than effort on making their elusive championship dreams come true. "They are a committed and focused group that is determined to achieve success this year," stated a confident Jody Katz.