Sticking with it
Centreville goalie to play hockey at international competition
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.
Brie Kaizer, 15, was recently chosen to compete on the Canadian Bears team in Europe this summer.