At the 2015 CBHA Nationals, Jenny Brine provided a legendary performance scoring the game-winning goals in both the semi-final and final matches, solidifying a remarkable legacy. Recognized as one of the 30 greatest players in the history of Canadian women’s ball hockey, a list that also features Hockey Hall of Famers Geraldine Heaney and Angela James, her legacy on the ball hockey court is indisputable.
While Jenny Brine’s athletic gifts on the ice established her as an elite competitor, she was also making her mark in ball hockey. As a high school student in Truro, Nova Scotia, Brine would become one of the first women in her community to compete in the sport. Of note, she would even have the opportunity to call her mother a teammate during those formative years, a cherished highlight.
Recognized as the Ontario Female Ball Hockey Player of the Year in 2010, she would capture a pair of CBHA National Championships with the Toronto Shamrocks (2012, 2015). In the run to the 2012 national title, Brine was recognized as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
During the 2015 tournament, Brine rose to the occasion more than once. An integral part of the Shamrocks offensive attack, she ranked second overall in tournament scoring during preliminary round play. Of note, she ranked second overall in preliminary round scoring with 6 points, trailing only Shamrocks teammate (and 2014 CBHA National Champion) Jamie Lee Rattray, who logged 10 points. As a side note, she tied with Carol Ann Upshall for second in goals scored with 4, as Rattray held the lead with five.
In elimination round play, Brine led all players in goals scored, while Shamrocks teammate Carolyne Prevost was tied for second. Perhaps more impressive was the fact that she scored the game-winning goals in both matches of elimination round play. During the opening match, she scored twice in a 2-0 shutout against the defending CBHA National Champion Vanier Mooseheads. Of note, the Mooseheads goalie was elite competitor Nathalie Girouard, a member of the Canadian contingent that captured the gold medal at the 2015 ISBHF Women’s Worlds.
Competing against Newfoundland United in the gold medal game, Brine scored the gold-medal clinching goal against goaltender Ayla Frank, who provided a valiant performance between the pipes. With Newfoundland United forcing overtime, the Shamrocks faced a short-handed situation as one of their players was called for hooking with two seconds left in regulation. Less than one minute into the overtime frame, Brine showed remarkable poise, bringing the Shamrocks their second national title in four years.
“It felt really good. It was a long tournament and we were all getting tired at this point. I was definitely fired up but any of the girls could have scored that goal.”
A member of the Canadian national ball hockey team that competed at the ISBHF Women’s Worlds in 2009, 2011 and 2013, Brine accumulated two gold medals and one silver medal. Such accomplishments stand among the greatest in her ball hockey career,
“I mean, it is huge to wear the Maple Leaf. It is an opportunity that not everyone gets. What a great opportunity to represent your country. There are so many talented players and it will always be an honor to represent.”
Equally notable is her legacy competing with a pair of remarkable women’s ice hockey teams in North America. With the Ivy League’s Harvard Crimson, Brine accumulated 143 points in four seasons, with her greatest season coming in 2007-08 as she logged 42 points. During her time at Harvard, she not only served as team captain, some of her teammates included Caitlin Cahow, Julie Chu and Sarah Vaillancourt.
A charter member of the Toronto Furies, she would log her first points with the blue and white on November 6, 2010. Against the Burlington Barracudas, Brine scored a pair of goals in a 4-1 victory, including the game-winning tally. That season would culminate with Brine appearing in the Clarkson Cup finals against the Montreal Stars.
Accumulating 33 points during the Furies first three seasons, Brine ranked fifth on the Furies in scoring during their inaugural 2010-11 campaign. Among the highlights of her career with the Furies, she also had the opportunity to compete with the club at the Air Canada Centre in November 2013, signifying the first time that a CWHL game was contested in an NHL Arena.
Several of her Furies teammates were also part of the Shamrocks roster that captured CBHA gold in 2015. Among them were the likes of Shamrocks co-founder Meagan Aarts, Lexie Hoffmeyer and Kristy Zamora. Other CWHL players on the Furies included Carolyne Prevost (who was making her CBHA debut in 2015) and the aforementioned Rattray, who competes with the Brampton Thunder.
When not on the ice, Brine and her Shamrocks teammates can be seen on the courts of the Toronto Greater Women’s Ball Hockey League. As more women’s ice hockey players include ball hockey as part of their off-season conditioning routine, it has only added to the quality of the game. Brine discusses the fusion of these two games and its influence,
“I think that in ice hockey, when a player that gets started up in ball hockey, it is just a matter of getting used to it. Over the last three years, there has been a great job of recruiting, and it elevates the level of play. The Toronto league is the strongest it has been in recent years. Whether it be ice hockey players, Olympic players or CWHL All-Stars, you get to see them on a weekly basis.
I feel that we play for the love of the game. The more people come out, the more that they see the camaraderie, hopefully it will get more younger girls get into the sport.”
During the run to the CBHA National Championship, many of the players on opposing teams were familiar faces. Considering that all six competing teams featured at least one player that was a member of Team Canada’s 2015 ISBHF squad, several were well-known to Brine, as they would have also played with her in 2013.
Whether it was the likes of Fannie Desforges and Jessica O’Grady with the Ottawa Rebels, Silvia Traversa with the BC Benders or Nathalie Girouard and Elysia Desmier with the Vanier Mooseheads, playing against former Canada teammates only adding to the experience of the event.
Even in the gold medal game, Brine opposed a trio of players who helped Canada capture gold in 2013. Of note, Newfoundland United featured Kristen Cooze, Amanda Kean and Dawn Tulk, who all played alongside Brine at the international level. Despite being opponents, all four were part of one of the greatest gold medal matches in the history of the CBHA Nationals. As such an outcome only adds to the event’s growing mythology, Brine graciously acknowledged that the friendships and high quality of play were also important components of such a memorable and eventful week.
“To play against teammates from Team Canada is fun. We are definitely friends when we are off the court, but we know each others moves and our styles. There is a certain level of respect when you play with them. The situation when you play against them is that it can be challenging, but there is still a lot of respect.
It was definitely a well-run event and a lot of fun. Every year, it gets stronger and stronger. Seeing the caliber of teams is exciting. That was definitely the highlight of the tournament. For most of the games this week, there were 2-goal games, which is something you want. It was very competitive and also great to run into old friends.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo details: (Left to right) Brine, Lexie Hoffmeyer and Meagan Aarts accepting the CBHA National Championship Trophy. Photo credit: Mark Staffieri