One of the realities of All-Star Games contested in any sport is that there is always that one player who seems to fly under the radar. Sometimes not as well known among the fans as the other participating All-Stars, their contributions are known, and appreciated, by those they line up with game after game. Despite being the last player selected by team captain Hilary Knight at the All-Star Fantasy Draft, Jordan Brickner is one of the Connecticut Whale’s unsung heroes, a tireless worker who has quietly assembled a strong presence on the squad’s blueline. Having also played in Europe with Austria’s Salzburg Eagles, where she was named an EWHL All-Star, along with a brief stint on the Lugano club in Italy, Brickner has no shortage of experience.
Along with Knight, they were two of five alums from the Wisconsin Badgers that suited up in the inaugural NWHL All-Star Game, more than any other program. During her first season with the Badgers, Brickner did not log one penalty minute, despite seeing action in 40 games. An All-Academic selection in her second (and final) season at Wisconsin, she would once again spend an entire season without serving a penalty. The chance to be reunited with Knight and the other Badgers alumnae in such a sensational showcase was one consisting of elation and exhilaration,
“When I first found out that I was chosen to play in the All-Star Game, I was a little shocked. Then (I was) both honored and excited to be able to be a part of the weekend festivities. I was mostly excited to reconnect with former teammates and friends. There were a few girls in attendance that I had not played with since college, my youth, or high school, so I was looking forward to playing with them again.”
Signing with the Whale on the same day as Lindsay Berman and Alyssa Wohlfeiler, the opportunity actually represented a celebrated return to Connecticut. Although Brickner was raised in Illinois, she spent four years as a member of the Connecticut Stars in her teens, while also attending the Hotchkiss School.
A stay-at-home blueliner with a fundamentally sound game, such a graceful style has served Brickner well with the Whale. Through the first 16 games of the season, Brickner only logged two penalty minutes. Of all the members of the Whale roster to have seen action in all 16 games, the only other player with less than 10 penalty minutes is Shannon Doyle, who has spent six minutes in the penalty box.
In addition to her solid seasons with the Badgers, Brickner also has a hockey background in New York State. From 2010 to 2012, she spent two seasons with the Colgate Raiders. Based out of Hamilton Village, New York, Brickner showed some offensive flair in her freshman season while logging her first NCAA goal in just her second game with the Raiders. The chance to return to the state and participate in the inaugural NWHL All-Star Game, contested at Harbor Center in Buffalo represented a proud moment for Brickner.
While Brickner found great enjoyment in the social aspect of All-Star Weekend, which included a formal dinner and an informal Saturday morning skate with young fans, bright eyed and energized at the chance to share the ice with such star players, there is not one particular moment that stands out as a specific favorite. Instead, Brickner chooses to appreciate a wider spectrum, where the entire weekend is one that not only continued to project the league into growing importance, but one where a content circle of friends gathered in a collective celebration, rejoicing in the accomplishment.
“Just in general, I think Dani has done an incredible job with the league and all the events that have happened. The All-Star Weekend was very well put together, and I think all of us really enjoyed the experienced. Like I stated earlier, it was nice to reconnect with old friends and teammates both on and off the ice. I was also honored to be able to play with so many talented players. Though we were all still very competitive and wanted to win, we were able to play a good, fun, stress free game.”
Of note, Brickner was not the only member of the Whale to suit up for Team Knight. Joining her were the likes of Kelli Stack, who has played alongside Knight at two Winter Games, plus Kaleigh Fratkin and Jaimie Leonoff, who were two of the four Canadians competing. Taking into account that each team required at least one member from each of the four NWHL teams, Shiann Darkangelo found herself as the lone Whale competitor on Team Pfalzer.
Considering that Darkangelo scored a goal for Team Pfalzer, part of a 9-1 final (which included Team Pfalzer gaining four points due to winning all categories in the All-Star Skills competitions), she would prove to be an important components of the offense. Taking into account that she was selected 18th overall in the All-Star Fantasy Draft, Darkangelo was one of the steals of the draft. Having had the chance to know Darkangelo as a teammate during the Whale’s inaugural season, she was very much aware of her potential to make things happen,
“Shiann is such a strong competitor and a great player, so you never want her on the opposing team; she has such a lethal shot! However, it was fun to play against her. There was so much talent on both Team Pfalzer and Team Knight that you had to watch out for any player on the ice. It was gratifying to play with so many talented hockey players.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image obtained from Twitter