Having played 11 years of pro hockey at the female level, Lindsay Vine is more than just an accomplished veteran. Currently with the Brampton Thunder, her career is a reminder to young fans of a time when the game was breaking ground in the former NWHL.
“I would have to say that playing in the NWHL now CWHL, the caliber has changed the most. These young girls are soooooo good. They are stronger and faster than what I recall in my earlier days in the league. I would also say that the style of hockey has also changed.
Earlier in my hockey career it was more a dump and chase game (there was the exception to this, Hefford & Sunahara) and now it is a puck possession game. It is nice to see the game evolve.”
For the rookies that Vine plays with, they are in the presence of a distinguished competitor. Her career is a tribute to the efforts of women (like herself) to grow the game and make it a very relevant voice in the sporting conversation.
From humble roots in Kirkland Lake, Ontario to a collegiate career with the Niagara University Purple Eagles, Vine was part of the early years of NCAA hockey, which would evolve as a key level of competition. Playing for head coach Margot Page (a former national team member), Vine would not only appear in the 2002 NCAA Frozen Four, she would blossom under her tutelage, eventually becoming team captain.
Those early leadership experiences would always help Vine to set a positive example. Such effort draws the admiration of the young fans in attendance at Brampton Thunder games. Always happy to meet the youngsters and provide an autograph in post game meet-and-greet sessions, that enthusiasm carries over to younger teammates as well.
An added bonus for Vine is the fact that she has the chance to autograph hockey cards that feature her own image on them. Issued by the Thunder, all 24 members of the team can now boast of cardboard immortality. For a longtime competitor such as Vine, it is another great opportunity to connect with the fans,
"It was neat that the Brampton organization created hockey cards. I think it is nice for the young girls. It would be nice to see all the teams do this and maybe the young girls can start trading them amongst themselves.”
An aspect that some fans may not be aware of is the fact that Vine is also a prominent ball hockey player. Having played for the Canadian national team that claimed the gold medal at the 2013 World Cup of Ball Hockey (hosted by the World Ball Hockey Federation); it marked a special time for women’s ball hockey in Canada. There was also a World Championship held in Newfoundland (under another association), which also featured many CWHL stars representing Canada in that event as well. Both Canadian squads would win the gold on home soil.
Vine is definitely proud to be back for the 2015 edition of the Canadian team that shall compete once again at the 2015 World Cup of Ball Hockey. To be contested later this year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she shall be joined on the roster by current CWHLers such as Tara French and Natasha Fryer. In addition, Winter Games gold medalist and star of Amazing Race Canada, Natalie Spooner has been named the team’s ambassador.
“I am honored to be named to the 2015 National Team. It means a lot to me. At my old sports age of 33, I realize that the clock is ticking so anytime I can be a part of and contribute to a National team or any high level sports team is very special. I think every new year in the CWHL or any Provincial or National tournament I attend, I try to make the best of every situation as it will all come to an end one day in the near future.”
In addition, Vine also plays at the club level in Burlington with the FACC Brownies, where it is not uncommon to see other women of the CWHL compete. Of note, Vine shares the floor with Brampton teammate Mallory Johnston and the aforementioned Tara French, currently a member of the Toronto Furies. During the 2013 season, all three contributed to a Women’s A Division Provincial Championships, while capturing the Burlington Ball Hockey League title five years straight. A remarkable extension of their love of hockey, the chance to compete at the ball hockey level during the CWHL off-season adds another dimension to their friendship,
"It is a lot of fun playing with Frenchie and Mal. They are both very skilled on the ice and floor. We have known each other for years now. Our lives cross paths very often, on the ice, on the ball hockey floor and we all attend the same gym, Goodlife. Natasha Fryer also plays on our ball hockey team.
"Participating in her third season with the Brampton Thunder, she was claimed by the squad during the 2012 CWHL Dispersal Draft. In the aftermath of the Burlington Barracudas ceasing operations, Vine was among a group of highly touted Burlington veterans (including the likes of Amber Bowman, Christina Kessler and Shannon Moulson) able to extend their CWHL careers elsewhere.
Playing alongside team captain (and four-time Winter Games participant) Becky Kellar, Vine had some memorable moments in Burlington. She would participate with a group of CWHL All-Stars at Copps Coliseum in 2008, competing against NHL alumni. In November 2011, Vine and several Barracudas would give back to the game by taking part in the first-ever women’s hockey tournament hosted by Hockey Helps the Homeless.
Of note, her acumen at the rink and strong leadership skills has made her an unsung hero on the Brampton blueline. Over the years, the club lost the likes of strong leaders such as Allyson Fox (a CWHL co-founder) and Molly Engstrom, making Vine a key factor in helping bring mentoring to fresh faces such as Laura Fortino and Jocelyne Larocque, while helping keep the club in contention for the Clarkson Cup.
”I am really enjoying this year with Brampton. Last year was a struggle and I did not want to end my hockey career that way. This year we have great rookies who have transitioned to the team and league very smoothly. We have a great dressing room and we genuinely care about each other. That means a lot to me.
At this stage in my hockey career, I would love to win a Clarkson Cup, but enjoying the small things along the way are very important to me. It’s hard to believe I am the oldest on the team. Jenny Kirk and I will often refer to each other as G (Geriatric). It’s an inside joke since we are the only two on the team in our 30’s.”
This season, her greatest performance came on one of the most historic days in CWHL history (February 7, 2015). Vine would supply a two-goal output (including the game’s first goal and a power-play marker in the third) in the same game where Caroline Ouellette surpassed Vine’s former teammate Jayna Hefford as the CWHL’s all-time scoring leader. It was only fitting that Vine had the chance to shine in a game that was a showcase for another important builder in women’s hockey.
Bringing a youthful smile and a positive attitude to the rink, Vine is an ideal mentor to the younger players looking to carve their own legacies. Her presence has not only helped the Thunder transition to what promises to be a bold, new era in franchise history, but she represents a love of the game which has proven to be the backbone of the game’s growth.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Jess Bazal