With an incredible passion for the game, whether on the ice or on the slab, Edie Brenning’s ascension to world-class competition reflects a gripping account built on a collaboration of deeply held aspirations and fascinating talent. The 2019 ISBHF World Championships, held during June 2019 in Košice, Slovakia, represented a sensational summit for Brenning, making her international debut with the highly competitive Team Canada.
Originally approaching ball hockey as a means of off-season training, three years of playing the game has composed a captivating chapter in her hockey odyssey. Earning the opportunity to excel and play internationally represents an extension of the dream that propelled Brenning to this peak, igniting a reaction filled with jubilation upon discovery that she was named to Team Canada’s 2019 team,
“My reaction was one of excitement. I was very happy about the opportunity and grateful to be selected. It was a great achievement for myself and my athletic career.”
Prior to competing on the slab, Brenning also enjoyed a proficient run on the ice. An alum of the Nepean Wildcats, she starred at the NCAA Division III level with Neumann University from 2010-14. Enjoying 95 appearances with the program, including the prestige of the captaincy for two seasons, she racked up 29 goals, part of a sterling career total of 56 points, respectively.
Calling Canada’s Capital Region home, Brenning wears the garb of the Ottawa Nordiks, among the elite clubs that participate in the Ottawa Vanier Women’s Ball Hockey League (OVWBHL). Among such a remarkable gathering of talent, Brenning’s talents shone, allowing her transition to ball hockey to be a seamless one. Also remaining faithful to her on-ice roots, Brenning, and McGill Martlets alum Chelsea Saunders are members of the Ottawa Ice 67’s Bantam AA coaching staff.
A renowned local sporting institution, the OVWBHL annually fields a team for the Canadian Ball Hockey Association (CBHA) Nationals, an event where she first gained the notice of scouts in attendance from Team Canada. The breakthrough moment for Brenning occurred during the preliminary round of the 2017 CBHA Nationals. Of note, Claudia Bergeron, a local legend who starred on the ice with the Carleton University Ravens, Kara Brumm and Brenning were among the top six scorers.
In that same year, Brenning was just as prevalent for Ottawa’s entry at the Winter Provincials. As the Ottawa Nordiks and the dynastic New Tecumseth X-Treme clashed for the gold, resulting in a hotly contested three-game set that saw the X-Treme prevail, Brenning was named the Most Valuable Forward, while Danika Doucet, a future teammate on Team Canada 2019, also enjoyed hockey hardware, earning Most Valuable Defender honours.
“Going to the national tournament, you are playing against the best girls in the country, in my opinion, the highest level of competition. I demonstrated that I was capable of playing at that level, and it was quite an accomplishment to be recognized as someone who stands out.”
Undoubtedly, the celebrated standing of the OVWBHL as an organization capable of supplying world-class players to Team Canada has been an integral part of the CBHA’s domestic and international legacy. Once again, the presence of Ottawans on the 2019 edition of Team Canada was prevalent.
Joining Brenning on the roster included iconic goaltender Nathalie Girouard, blueliners Kara Brumm, Nicole Latreille, and forward Elysia Desmier, and all iconic players in OVWBHL lore. Taking into account that Brumm and Latreille are teammates on Brenning’s club team, the Nordiks, the level of familiarity and competitive rapport allowed for a much more pleasant transition as the prestige of international play marked the first in her promising ball hockey career.
“Kara, Trey (Latreille) and I play on the Nordiks in Ottawa. Having that chemistry with those girls, when I transitioned to Team Canada, it really helps to have girls from the same team playing on the biggest stage.”
Calling the Mooseheads her club team, Desmier, whose extensive hockey background includes on-ice competition with the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks, followed by the CWHL’s Brampton Thunder, is a fixture on Canada’s national team. Along with Girouard, a long-time competitor for the Mooseheads, both earned gold medals with Canada’s team at the 2013 and 2015 ISBHF Worlds, followed by a bronze medal two years later.
Heading into the Worlds, existing rivalries between the Nordiks and Mooseheads quickly evaporated, as the common goal for the players of these respective teams was attaining gold for Canada. Benefitting from the prospect of learning from a local legend and prominent international veteran, as Desmier’s body of work certainly speaks for itself, Brenning absorbed the insights and the elements needed to prepare and excel,
“During the preparation of the tournament, I went to Dez (Desmier), getting prepared for what shape I needed to be in, what competing would be like. She was a great support and someone to bounce off questions to.
It was the first time I played this sport in Europe. The tournament was very well organized, and the city was into it. (Overall), it was great and I was impressed with the host country.”
Appearing in all of Canada’s games, Brenning’s first international game took place on June 14, 2019 versus host country Slovakia. Indubitably, the dream of wearing the Canadian jersey was realized in that milestone appearance, a 4-0 shutout win for Canada. Reflecting on that first time, the iconic Maple Leaf emblazoned on the front of a robust red, such a garment became both a source of motivation and a formidable symbol of the privilege that entails competing for one’s homeland,
“To wear the Canadian jersey the first time was absolutely incredible. What a great feeling to represent your country, something indescribable. When you look around the room and see your teammates there, it is not only a great honour to put the jersey on; it is powerful. It resonates with you that this is real.”
Brenning’s sojourn into ISBHF play brought with it a strong significance. Despite the fact that she had not been on Canada’s roster at the 2017 edition of the Worlds, its unexpected outcome was one that held haunting elements. In addition to losing to the United States for the first time, the roster also experienced another forlorn first, competing in the bronze medal game.
Certainly, the Canadian contingent was on a mission to avoid another similar finish, eager to reclaim its spot on top, a desire to win defined by redemption. That drive for golden glory was not lost on Brenning, eager to influence the hope of a successful outcome, simultaneously motivated to be a factor.
“I had not been on the team two years prior so I was not really familiar with the loss they went through. The players that were on the team two years ago wanted redemption for the outcome prior.
In making my debut, I wanted my voice heard and make an impact on this team. I certainly wanted gold, and not bronze. I wanted to embrace the experience. Although the nerves were there (at the start), I quickly found my game, and got comfortable wanting to contribute.”
Tied with Jessie McCann as Canada’s leading scorer in Košice, placing seventh overall in the scoring title, such productivity was testament to Brenning’s perseverance, highly devoted towards her goal of contributing towards the Canadian contingent’s golden goal. Certainly, the scoring proficiency served to establish her as a prime time player for Canada, likely placing her among the building blocks for the next generation of ball hockey greatness,
“That was great. I wanted to make an impact and make my presence felt. I wanted to prove that I deserved to be there. To be able to contribute to the team, I was able to prove to myself that I earned the right to play. If I am not producing, I am my harshest critic, and I feel like I am not doing my job. To show up on the scoreboard, I feel great about that.”
Standing as her proudest pinnacle was the milestone of winning gold in Brenning’s international debut. Scoring twice in the gold medal game versus the United States, who were looking to win their first-ever gold in tournament history, it was her finest hour on the slab in Košice. Recounting how the team remained poised after an unsatisfactory first period, it was one of the most dramatic and pulse-pounding performances in recent memory, adding to Canada’s legend in ISBHF lore, prevailing in a 4-2 triumph.
“That was my highest point. We were down and after the first period, we were losing 1-0. There was no sense of panic. We tried to the change the way that game was swinging. That first goal resulted in momentum and shifted the change in attitude. We were going to have a great game and wanted to win this game.”
Before the season expired, there was one more opportunity for Brenning to experience cherished glory. Burnishing the golden glory that took place in Košice, she returned home by competing with the Ottawa Capitals at the OVWBHL’s entry at the CBHA Nationals in Newfoundland.
Combining both national and local pride, the rosters from British Columbia Selects, Newfoundland United and the New Tecumseth X-Treme featured at least one player from Team Canada 2019. With Mount Pearl’s Glacier Arena serving as the backdrop, a hat trick by Ottawa Gee-Gees hockey alum Carol-Ann Upshall set the tone in a 4-0 shutout win, allowing Brenning the rare and prestigious honor of having won both CBHA and ISBHF gold in the same year.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”