As the Brampton Thunder studiously and ambitiously work towards attaining its first-ever Clarkson Cup, the 2016 CWHL Draft may prove to be its defining moment. With a club that boasts the league’s finest defensive unit, it may have also assembled the finest draft class of 2016. Among the players of said class includes Quinnipiac Bobcats sniper Nicole Brown, who was selected thirteenth overall.
For so many players raised in the Greater Toronto Area, the opportunity to continue their careers in such similar surroundings following the twilight of their university careers is an exceptional point of pride. Raised east of Toronto in Oshawa, Ontario, the opportunity to suit up for the Brampton Thunder is one that Brown approaches with great anticipation.
”Having played my college career nine hours away from home it was tough for my family and friends to come down and watch games. So being drafted by Brampton was awesome because it is a lot closer than nine hrs. I will have the opportunity to see some familiar faces of my friends and family up the stands a lot more often this year, which is super exciting!”
During her formative years, Brown played at the PWHL level with the Whitby Jr Wolves, where she served as assistant captain during the 2011-2012 campaign, racking up an exceptional 75 points, Brown would go on to a solid career at the NCAA level with the Quinnipiac Bobcats. Earning a pair of nods at the ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team, Brown would combine her commitment to the classroom with a solid on-ice career.
Four fantastic seasons with the Bobcats would see Brown shine brightest in her senior season, amassing a career high in points, while achieving her greatest moment. In what would prove to be the second last game of her treasured time there, Brown’s achievement would prove to be one of the most important in program history.
Competing in the ECAC championship game against the Clarkson Golden Knights (who won the NCAA Frozen Four in 2014), Brown scored the championship clinching goal as Nicole Connery and Cydney Roesler, both alums with Canada’s U18 national team, logged the assists in a 1-0 final. Said goal provided Quinnipiac with their first-ever tournament championship, clinching a spot in the NCAA tournament, another historic first. As a side note, former Thunder draft pick Amanda Mazzotta served on the Bobcats coaching staff.
Coincidentally, the program also achieved another first that season, gaining the regular season title for the best win-loss record. For her efforts in the championship game, Brown was recognized as the American Sports Network’s Player of the Week while gaining a place on the ECAC All-Tournament Team.
“Last year was definitely the best year of my life! I had the most amazing group of teammates, coaching staff, and fans to share it with. Having put in so much effort over the years both on and off the ice it was quite a special feeling having it all pay off when we won the ECAC title. What made it even more special was that it was the program’s first title as well. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of the Quinnipiac community for 4 years but I am definitely excited for what’s next!”
In addition to her strong playmaking skills (leading the Bobcats with eight power play assists) and abilities as a sniper, where she ranked second with four game-winning goals, Brown brings a strong level of disciplined play to the Thunder. During her junior season at Quinnipiac, Brown only served six penalty minutes, while the senior season brought about similar results, as she spent just eight minutes in the penalty box.
Such elements contribute to making Brown one of the most promising rookie prospects in the season to come. Adding to the excitement of said season with Brampton is the fact that Shannon MacAulay, who scored the Frozen Four clinching goal for Clarkson in 2014, and served as Clarkson’s team captain in 2015-16, goes from rival to teammate, as she was also a member of Brampton’s draft class. Taking into account that both contributed to historic championships at the collegiate level, it would be most appropriate if both were able to bring an elusive Clarkson Cup to Brampton,
”My reaction to getting drafted by Brampton was a rush of adrenaline, mixed with a side of ‘do not trip walking up to the stage’. I know I can offer Brampton my playmaking abilities and hockey sense. I think I make some plays that others might not even think to make. I would not necessarily consider myself a huge goal scorer but more of a player that will get you the puck in the best possible position to put it in the net!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise first indicated”
Image obtained from: http://www.quinnipiacbobcats.com/news/2016/2/27/nicole-brown-lifts-no-1-qu-womens-ice-hockey-past-no-8-rensselaer-in-double-overtime-2-1.aspx