Stick­ing with it

Cen­tre­ville goalie to play hockey at in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion

Valley Journal Advertiser - - NEWS - KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA Sara.Ericsson@kingscountynews.ca

A lo­cal hockey star is about to em­bark on her first trip out­side North Amer­ica, and will play goalie as part of a hand-picked ros­ter of ath­letes from across Canada.

Brie Kaizer will join nearly 20 oth­ers on the Cana­dian Bears team, set to travel to Eu­rope this Au­gust to play a 10-game in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment.

Day to day, Kaizer also plays goalie for two teams here in the Annapolis Val­ley: the North­east Kings Ti­tans and the Val­ley Wild Midget AA. She says burnout is in­evitable — of­ten play­ing up to five games per week­end — but she has a trick for push­ing past it and get­ting out to the ice.

“When I re­mem­ber my team­mates, and the com­mit­ment I’ve made to be their goalie, it’s a no­brainer. And by the time I get to the ice, I’m al­ways ex­cited to get to work and play,” she says.

Get­ting into hockey gear

Kaizer, 15, is a Grade 10 stu­dent at NKEC, where she stud­ies in the AP pro­gram on top of play­ing on her two hockey teams.

She says bal­anc­ing hockey and school can be hard, and of­ten goes from one game — do­ing home­work on the way, still wear­ing her full goalie gear — and drives straight to an­other.

She says the looks she and her mom, Tammy MacQuar­rie, get from other driv­ers who pass them are price­less.

“Peo­ple will look at our car, see me in all of my gear, and look freaked, like, ‘ wow, that girl is in full gear in a car.’ It’s re­ally funny,” laughs Kaizer.

It’s been an in­ter­est­ing year of hockey for the goalie, play­ing the Kings County area with her high school team, and play­ing a much wider one with the Val­ley Wild, who had to com­bine with the Western Zone South Shore team “I’m sure if the num­bers were tracked prop­erly, her save per­cent av­er­age would be top of the league,” says NKEC coach Pete Lin­de­man about goal­tender Brie Kaizer.

to have enough play­ers for a team.

Games span from Wind­sor to Yar­mouth, which means a lot of driv­ing for Kaizer and her mother.

But, as some­one who not only wel­comes but en­joys a chal­lenge, Kaizer said she doesn’t mind.

She’s been play­ing the sport since age five and won’t let a lit­tle driv­ing get be­tween her and the ice.

“It’s a lot of work, but I love be­ing out there, on the ice. It’s where I feel at home,” she says.

From atom to the in­ter­na­tional rink

Kaizer got her ath­letic start when she be­gan dance and fig­ure skat­ing lessons.

A self-pro­claimed tomboy, she de­cided those were too ‘girly’ for her, but re­ally loved skat­ing.

Her par­ents en­rolled her in hockey but didn’t know how things would pan out.

Four years later, Kaizer was try­ing out for the com­pet­i­tive atom rep team. She made the ‘B’ level team — the low­est in the or­ga­ni­za­tion — and felt dis­ap­pointed at the re­sult.

“It wasn’t ideal, that’s for sure. I

was frus­trated that I didn’t make a bet­ter team, but I worked re­ally hard and made the ‘ AA’ team the fol­low­ing year,” she says.

“I knew it was some­thing I re­ally en­joyed, es­pe­cially see­ing I was get­ting bet­ter and hav­ing more fun, the harder it got.”

While get­ting up in the morn­ings was hard for a young girl that loves her sleep, Kaizer says she was im­me­di­ately awake upon ar­riv­ing at the rink.

Step­ping out onto the ice, this time with a stick in her hand, she felt like she’d found her stride.

And things got even bet­ter when she tried be­ing goalie for the first time, and dis­cov­ered her love of be­ing in the net, with a knack for be­ing able to grab the puck out of the air — a skill she’d picked up from years of play­ing catch with her brother and step-broth­ers.

Kaizer is now known across the league for her glove hand and says be­ing goalie is some­thing she’s grown to love so much she’s never once thought of re­vert­ing back to be­ing a player.

“I like hav­ing my own area, and

the crease is my space. That’s where I own the game,” she says.

Best goalie in the league: coach

Be­fore be­ing cho­sen to play for the Cana­dian Bears, Kaizer was also picked to play for the Nova Sco­tia Raiders ‘ AAA’ team, start­ing when she was in Grade 7 and the team’s only goalie. She played with the team through­out the Mar­itimes, Que­bec and New Hamp­shire, and also played on the At­lantic Se­lects, which took the team across the coun­try.

Even with ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence on com­pet­i­tive, trav­el­ing teams, be­ing hand­picked for the Bears was a spe­cial mo­ment for Kaizer and her mother, who re­ceived the email from the team’s re­cruiter.

“She called me over, and was so ex­cited and said, ‘This just hap­pened, you’re go­ing to Eu­rope,’” says Kaizer, who works full time each sum­mer at Cen­tre­ville’s Footes Farm Mar­ket to pay for her hockey trips.

She says it means more “know­ing I’ve worked for it, and that it’s not all on my mom to pay for it.”

Her skills and work ethic have not gone un­no­ticed, ei­ther — Kaizer’s North­east Kings coach, Pete Lin­de­man, says he’s con­fi­dent she’s the best goalie in the league and plays a vi­tal role on NKEC’s in­ex­pe­ri­enced team, keep­ing goals against to a min­i­mum and reg­u­larly fac­ing up­wards of 40 to 50 shots per game.

“I’m sure if the num­bers were tracked prop­erly, her save per­cent av­er­age would be top of the league. For the last team in the stand­ings to lose to the best team in the league by a score of 2-1 speaks vol­umes of the skill and pro­fi­ciency of Brie as a goalie,” he says.

Head­ing off to Eu­rope

The trip abroad will take Kaizer to Ger­many, the Czech Re­pub­lic and Aus­tria, and while she’s look­ing for­ward to fac­ing the com­pe­ti­tion, she’s feel­ing a lit­tle ner­vous as the trip gets closer.

Team play­ers will meet for the first time at the air­port, once they ar­rive, and most have never played to­gether be­fore.

Kaizer is also go­ing with­out her mother, who nor­mally ac­com­pa­nies her on her trips.

To fight off the nerves, Kaizer has been per­fect­ing her game as she plays through the sea­son with both her teams.

Her fo­cus has been on stay­ing up more, and cut­ting down her an­gle, which is how a goalie po­si­tions them­selves to limit the play­ers’ vis­i­bil­ity.

“I’m stay­ing out, stay­ing big, and stay­ing up — that’s the fo­cus for this year,” she says.

Be­ing cho­sen for the na­tional team has Kaizer feel­ing val­i­dated that the time she’s in­vested into per­fect­ing her game has led her to this point.

“I’ve been play­ing for­ever and get­ting picked means I’m good — that I’m not just the av­er­age player. It shows I’ve worked hard and I’ve got­ten some­thing from it,” she says.

JEN­NIFER VARDY LIT­TLE

Brie Kaizer, 15, was re­cently cho­sen to com­pete on the Cana­dian Bears team in Eu­rope this sum­mer.

JEN­NIFER VARDY LIT­TLE

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