Here’s why you should care about Briercrest hockey

Posted: September 21, 2015

The Briercrest Clippers begin their 19th season in the ACAC September 25. The hockey program at Briercrest enjoys a wide range of support, from the casual fan all the way to the Joy Foreman’s out there who make it to every single game. No matter who you are, it is worthwhile to spend a few moments reflecting on what makes this program and this year's group of young men deserving of support.

Briercrest students participate in Christian service in a variety of ways. For our student-athletes, the medium is high performance sport. While any student at Briercrest may experience some of the difficulties that come along with exhibiting light within darkness, no other venue in Canada exalts physical violence and intimidation like hockey. The New York Times calls our national sport "the escape valve that makes Canadian niceness possible."

What an escape valve it is. At times, the Briercrest hockey team faces deplorable tactics and violent aggression. It is a testament to their valour that this hostility is taken in stride as they play the game with a higher purpose in mind. One cannot help but admire their unflinching willingness to bleed, sometimes literally, in order to sit down with opponents around a meal after the game and share their faith in Christ. 

This vision and the dedication thereto has left an impression league-wide. Ken Babey is the ACAC's all-time winningest coach and, until 2014, led SAIT's hockey program for 27 years. Now the head coach of Canada's paralympic hockey team, he shared his memories of Briercrest hockey: "Briercrest athletes were first class - well mannered, well spoken, and they competed hard as good sportsmen. Briercrest is a role model for the conference - in life as much or more than any other team." This is the legacy that lives on.

 For two straight campaigns, Briercrest has improved in almost every statistical category as well as in the standings. They'll be looking to continue that upward trend this season as well. Front and center in this effort will be defensive stalwart and team captain Josh Dufresne, as well as leading offensive threat and fellow fifth-year player Taylor Epp. Along with Brennan Gasmo, these graduating athletes will be leading by example as they have throughout their tenure with the team.  

Fourth-year goaltender Christian Mueller brings stability in net after his best statistical season to date, and veteran forwards Jacob Baribeau, Josh Anderson, and Brett Lafond are joined by a promising mix of rookies and returnees in what should be one of the more balanced groups of forwards the program has had.

Briercrest finished one spot out of the playoffs last season and will be looking to get over that hump this year. Essential in that objective will be a better first half of the season. Briercrest's strong finish last season created momentum as they leapfrogged the Portage Voyageurs and Concordia Thunder in the standings, but it was not enough to overcome a lengthy early season slump.

Briercrest has earned a lot of respect - now the task becomes playing to their potential, and playing with the expectation to win. That the team competes for these goals with exemplary character makes them the most compelling story in the league. Join them at the Barkman arena to find out for yourself.

For up to date information on the Briercrest Hockey team follow them on Facebook.