A by-the-numbers look at the past five years in the career of Brooke Hobson
reveals one busy – and accomplished – 17-year-old:
- 2 – times, including this season, she has been named Defenceman of the
Year in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League
- 4 –years, consecutively, she has been named to the SFMAAAHL First
- 3 – appearances with Team Saskatchewan at the National Women’s Under-18
Championship, with an ‘A’ last fall on home ice in Regina
- 1 – appearance for Team Saskatchewan at the Canada Winter Games
- 8 – games played for Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team, plus one
silver medal won at the 2017 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship
Then there’s this one: 178.
That’s the number of games Hobson has played for the Prince Albert Bears,
most ever by anyone in the SFMAAAHL.
That’s what happens when you’re good enough to play your first game as a
12-year-old, your first season as a 13-year-old, and you repeatedly lead
your team on long playoff runs.
But for all that Hobson has accomplished, there remained one goal unmet,
one box unchecked.
“Ever since my first year, the goal has been to get to the Esso Cup and win
the Esso Cup,” says Hobson. “Five years – it’s a long time. I knew this was
my last chance to help my team get there.”
“She’s been a big part of our team every year,” says Jeff Willoughby,
Hobson’s head coach with the Bears. “And she’s always been willing to be a
leader no matter how young she was – it’s her willingness to compete.
There’s never any intimidation factor against her; there’s never any fear.”
Hobson was doubly motivated to make the most of her final Midget season.
She stepped up her off-ice training last spring with an eye toward making
Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team, working with a trainer 90 minutes
away in Saskatoon.
“But it’s also helped tremendously with how I lead the Bears on and off the
ice,” she says. The team’s trainer gives the workouts but wants Hobson to
set the pace for the rest of the roster.
In a way, she’s been doing that since Day 1. As a Peewee-age affiliate, she
scored her first goal – shorthanded – playing forward.
And she continued setting the tone right through the West Regional and the
game that clinched Prince Albert its first berth in the Esso Cup.
With the Bears up a game but down three goals in Game 2 against the Westman
Wildcats, Hobson tallied twice in 3:25 midway through the third period to
bring her team within one – “Like she was the only player on the ice,” says
Willoughby – and the team scored twice more for a one-goal win.
Technically the 2017 Esso Cup is Hobson’s fifth time competing at a
national championship. At the U18 nationals and Canada Winter Games, a
provincial team comes together quickly and for only a short time. The Esso
Cup is different.
“This team,” says Hobson, “we’ve been together for nine months – a long
time. We’ve built this whole system to get us to where we want to be. It’s
a short-term event, but the process to Esso is a long-term event. There are
ups and downs you face as a team. It’s awesome that we’ve spent the past
nine months preparing for this event together.”
Hobson left the team for a few weeks in January to play in the IIHF U18
Women’s World Championship. The Bears had their last road trip of the
season while she was away. Returning home was a reminder that things would
soon no longer be the same.
“I came back and was like, ‘I’m not on the bus or anything,” says Hobson.
“I don’t get to experience that anymore. I definitely wanted to make the
push for playoffs to get to regionals to get to Esso so I could have this
one last road trip with the girls.”
Soon, Hobson will start the next chapter of her career. She’ll hit the road
on her own to spend the summer training at Northeastern University, before
her freshman season with the Huskies in the fall. Until then, there’s one
more week of games to play, one last chance to lead and one more box to
check with the Bears.
Four years of frustration – including two seasons ending in the SFMHAAAHL
final, last year in overtime in the deciding game – now forgotten, Hobson
is almost ready to sign off on the script.
Her coach, for one, couldn’t be happier that she’s getting to write it
“The team isn’t ready until she is, and she’s always on time, never misses
a practice,” says Willoughby. “Her consistency of being there and being the
hardest worker is phenomenal. For five years. To see it pay off like this,
I couldn’t be happier for a player.”