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Brilliant Rebecca Vint Enjoys Splendid Rookie Season with Thunder

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Having returned to the postseason for the first time since 2013, among the Brampton Thunder’s hockey heroes this season was Rebecca Vint. Having established herself as a rookie sensation, Vint was also one of the anchors on the squad’s offensive attack. Her efforts culminated as a finalist for the league’s Rookie of the Year Award.

Making her CWHL debut on October 17, 2015, a road contest against Les Canadiennes de Montreal, Vint would have to wait until her fourth game to log her first point. In an October 25, 2015 home match against the rival Toronto Furies, Vint would score twice during the third period of a convincing 6-3 final.

Recording her first two career goals against CWHL All-Star goaltender Christina Kessler, the milestone first was assisted by Jenna McParland and team captain Jocelyne Larocque. As a side note, her first six CWHL points were all goals, foreshadowing future glories to come as her inaugural season ended with a superlative 11-game scoring streak.

Of all the teams in the CWHL, Vint would enjoy her greatest success against the Furies. With another chapter in the Battle of Toronto taking place in a televised game on January 2, 2016 on Rogers Sportsnet, Vint would set the tone in the third period. After a scoreless tie through 40 minutes of play, Vint’s goal at the 2:22 mark of the third was not only the first goal of the game, it would open the floodgates as Brampton scored two more times.

Assisted by Ellie Seedhouse, said goal would stand as the game-winning tally (the first in her CWHL career) as the Thunder prevailed in a 3-0 shutout win. An exceptional performance by Vint against the Furies in February, featuring another career milestone, would also contribute to the Thunder’s growing confidence.

Part of a solid draft class that included first overall pick Sarah Edney, Jenna McParland and Becca King, there was another draft pick that Vint (selected 11th overall) relished the opportunity to grace the ice with. In making the jump to CWHL hockey, Vint gained the chance to share the experience Kristen Richards, a former teammate from her NCAA years. In addition, the two were teammates on the Toronto Shamrocks, winners of the 2015 CBHA national ball hockey championships.

“It is always fun to play with old teammates and against them too for that matter. Rich and I did not play a lot together this season because we are both centers, but we but we still had an amazing rookie year together!”

In 24 games played this season, Vint was a revelation, scoring an astounding 19 goals, leading all CWHL rookies and tying for second overall in league play with Ann-Sophie Bettez. Accumulating a solid 26 points, Vint tied fellow rookie Elana Lovell for ninth in league scoring. Both rookie sensations trailed Calgary Inferno captain Brianne Jenner by one point for the rookie scoring title. As a side note, Vint’s three game winning goals ranked second among rookies, only trailing Calgary’s Jillian Saulnier, who paced the circuit with four.

Perhaps more impressive was the fact that Vint ranked third overall in scoring on the Thunder, while her +14 rating ranked second only to CWHL All-Star Jess Jones. Only a pair of Canadian national team members would outscore Vint this season as she trailed Jamie Lee Rattray (29 points) and Laura Fortino (28 points), who would finish her season as the recipient of the CWHL’s Most Outstanding Defender. Taking into account that all three are under the age of 25, the future bodes well for a highly promising Thunder team. Of note, there was another member of the Thunder’s roster that Vint looked up to,

“I really looked up to our captain, Jocelyn Larocque. She is such a hard worker, and she’s a great role model for people of all ages.”

Vint was also among the league’s leader board in several other statistical categories. Her passionate play and spirited approach to the game resulted in 42 penalty minutes, which ranked first. As Vint acquires more experience, there is no question that she will become an even smarter player, which should result in a reduction in penalties.

Her proficiency on special teams was a significant factor in the Thunder being able to storm back into the postseason. Not only did she lead all CWHL rookies with four Power Play markers, she tied for the league lead in shorthanded goals with Caroline Ouellette and Natalie Spooner, two of the most recognizable names in women’s ice hockey today.

Although Vint was not awarded the CWHL’s Rookie of the Year, an honor that was bestowed upon Lovell, there was a consolation. Recognized as February’s Player of the Month, it was a fitting tribute to mark the end of an exceptional rookie campaign.

“It meant a lot. That is a huge accomplishment for me. I have none other than my teammates to thank, (as I) would not have gotten there without them.”

Recording at least one goal in every contest for the month of February, Vint closed out the month with a splendid 10 point output. She would begin February with a magnificent three-point effort on the road against Les Canadiennes de Montreal, who would finish the season first overall in the league standings. Compiling three points (on the strength of two assists), the Thunder forced a shootout against the home team.

Despite the Thunder enduring a losing record in the month of February, there were some encouraging moments. Among them was Vint’s first CWHL hat trick, part of a 4-3 overtime triumph on the road against the Furies on Valentine’s Day. Once again, Vint would deliver in the clutch, scoring the game-winning tally. Less than a week later, Vint would score in a 3-2 victory against the eventual Clarkson Cup champion Calgary Inferno.

In a season filled with so many memorable moments, there was one that stood out for Vint, one which may be a turning point for this young Thunder team looking to climb back into the championship picture in the near future. An early January contest against the eventual Clarkson Cup champion Calgary Inferno sent a very powerful message.

Recording assists on the Thunder’s first and final goals in regulation, which were also scored on the power play, Vint’s solid playmaking skills contributed to one of the most electrifying battles of the entire season. With 19 players (from both teams) logging at least one point, the Thunder faced setbacks of 5-1, 6-3 and 7-5, managing to force overtime.

While Vint recounts the miraculous comeback which capped one of the highlights of the entire CWHL season, one that also saw the Inferno outshoot the Thunder by a 44-35 margin, it helped prove that the Thunder have the ability to contend with the league’s elites. Displaying strong resiliency and refusing to give up, players such as the high scoring Vint are cornerstones for a talented squad that may become part of the championship picture in the near future.

“I had a lot of favourite moments playing for the Brampton Thunder. This team is full of amazing individuals. I loved every minute of it. Yet, one of my favourite moments this year would have to be January 10th, when we came back from a 5-1 deficit and beat Calgary 8-7 in shootouts. That day our team proved we could come back from anything.

It is really hard to be down by that much, and still fight for what you want. But that day, every individual on the Thunder proved how much this team means to them, and how each person on this team is here for the same reason. We had the fight in our eyes. We had one goal in mind showing up to the rink that day, and it was to win, and we weren’t leaving until we had that W.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated” 

Photo credit: Jess Bazal

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