So we asked Breann to tell us about how hockey came to be that sport. for her, the one she dedicated to. She explained
"I played boys hockey growing up, so I didn’t know anything different. There was girls hockey but it just wasn’t at the level it is at now. I think the biggest breakthrough maybe, when I was younger, when I really put myself on the map, was when I made the AAA Boy’s team in Winnipeg, for the Winnipeg Sharks. There had only ever been three females that has made AAA, Chelsea Karpenko, who’s a year older than me and was also on the National Team with me. She made it the year before me. But I played summer hockey for the Manitoba AAA organization right around when I was eight. So that is kind of what started to push me through. When I was 13, I made the boys AAA team, and that was a big Wow! I got my team Manitoba tryouts from there too. And then I started playing both boys and girls hockey in the summer around age 14, and that’s when I started scoring 4, 5, 6 goals a game. And everyone was like: Hey! Who is this person? You start talking about it now like this, and it sounds kind of crazy. How do you score 6 or seven goals a game, that seems so cocky! But it happened back in the day, however many years ago, so that’s a little bit of the snippet right around those two events.”
Before Bree went to Michigan, which she mentioned earlier, to join Little Caesars, she had some great moments with Team Manitoba. She revealed
“Usually to play on Team Manitoba you have to be 17 or 18 years old, so I played as an underager. We went to the 2007 Canada Winter games, so I would have been 16 just then. So I went there and finished that, and then went to Detroit the next summer. So With Team Manitoba, we finished with the Silver Medal at the Games, against Team Ontario. If you look at that Team Ontario, like every single girl on that team was on the National Team! We were just a little Manitoba team, but it was good group of girls there and we did well. Then I played on Team Manitoba the next two years, which were my real years I was eligible for and that’s when I started to get scouted by Mel Davidson. It’s funny, she just posted her retirement from Hockey Canada yesterday. She was the head scout, and that was when they started to do the whole scouting for U18 program for Team Canada, so a lot of the scouts were at the Canada Winter Games in 2007. That was when they started the first national camp.”
So one of Breann’s most significant transferences was of herself, geographically to the United States. Here’s how she explained the way that came about, and turned out.
“I played boys hockey as a 13 & 14 year old, so that was Bantam 1 & 2. After that I was too small to play with the guys, I would have gotten hurt if I played Midgets. So as a 15 & 16 year old, I played at Balmoral Hall (prep). They started an all girls travel hockey program there. Essentially most of us went to school there free on scholarship. All the girls I played with were a year or two,older than me, so I went in as a 10th grader and played for two years.Then the next year everyone graduated, and there really wasn’t anybody left on the team that was going to help me accelerate to the next level. So my parents were looking at different options, Shattuck-Saint Mary’s, for example, but financially that wasn’t an option. And they have scholarships and stuff, but still it was US dollars and they really couldn’t afford that. But an opportunity came up while we were at the JWHL tournament. One of the coaches had come to my Dad about an opportunity with a Detroit Little Caesars. And the cool part was, Madison Packer at the time was on that team, and her and I ended up living with her family for that year. We were in school together, and we trained on the same Little Caesar’s Team. And while I was on Team Canada U18 she was on Team USA U18 and we trained together for the whole year, and it was a great way to accelerate my development for that last year prior to college. “
Bree added "I did Team Canada for two years, the Lake Placid Series and the Toronto Series. The first two years I made the U18 team in the Series, but I was the last cut for the World Championships in Calgary. I think the only U18 players that made the squad were Fortino, Poulin, and Jenner. Actually, Fortino is a year older so Poulin and Jenner were the only U18 that made the team. I was kind of defeated there, and then I came back the next year and played at Lake Placid in the Series. Then went to Germany for the World Championships with the U18 Team where we won the silver medal. The US beat us in OT. Madison and I lived together at that time, so you can imagine that! Then we went on to win the state championship in Michigan together right afterwards, in March with a Little Caesar’s."
Bree had put together an impressive resume on the ice by time it came to choose a college. Wisconsin is where she ended up, but it was not a simple choice. She explained
"Honestly, Wisconsin was not my first school of choice. I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship offer from all 41 Division 1 schools. I was a lot better going into college than my college career ended up being:) I definitely think it was under performed. So originally I wanted to go Ivy League, I was always pretty bright in school, but my parents weren’t financially very well off. So I looked at Ivy League schools, Dartmouth was one of them. I actually went on an official visit there, and loved it and verbally committed to go there. And then of course Wisconsin, it was the #1 hockey school school. One of the reasons I ended up deciding to go there was because my family could come to all my away games. Living in Winnipeg, Wisconsin is ten hours away, going to North Dakota is two hours, Saint Cloud is five, and Minnesota is seven. So, that was a big draw. My parents came down to do my official visit with me, which really helped the feeling. It was a big kind of social environment, which is a big part of my personality. So that’s what drew me there, and obviously them being the #1 team. I was super competitive and wanted to be part of it. But the last piece is, going Ivy League they don’t give out full ride scholarships. And with my Dad having his own business that was growing at the time, I couldn’t put my family in that (financial) situation there. I’d heard horror stories where the first year is $5,000 and the following year was X amount of dollars based on the income of your family. So that’s a lot of the reason I chose to go to Wisconsin, other than geography and it being a good hockey program, and academically it’s a good school. So those are some of the reasons why.”
Even though Breann only played two seasons of her college career at Wisconsin, her sophomore year was pretty special. In the 2010-2011 season, her Badgers won the NCAA National Championship. She recalled
"That team I’ll never forget! ! You probably could have put anyone behind the bench that season, we were just so intense! Practices were like games! Our healthy scratch players could have been a top line player on every team. Everyone’s work ethic, and the team environment had the purpose everyday just to make everyone better.. There’s been nothing else I’ve been a part of like that. It was a really cool team culture, and you’re practicing against Olympians every single day. So definitely a cool experience. I definitely think being a part of that team was a highlight of mine, I learned a lot. I faced a lot of adversity that year. It wasn't an easy ride. I definitely started off really strong. I played a regular shift, but I wasn’t on special teams. There was a different perspective from the coaching environment, where on a different team I might have played a little more. So it wasn’t an easy year for me, but overall as I look back, it made me a better person and a better player by going through that experience. And so I think ultimately too, just understanding the betterment of the team, team success versus just my own as well, was key. So a big piece was the adversity and perseverance of that experience, not only our team winning, but from my personal growth as a person. It was a big part of that dynamic.”
Before we spoke about her next transferance, again of herself to Quinnipiac University, we asked about her height. The Badgers had listed Bree as 5’4” and the Bobcats a year later as 5’5” Bree explained she hadn't grown an inch, and clarified
“I think it can go either way! I’m probably honestly 5’4.5” It just depends on how they want it, I definitely didn’t grow an inch in that period of time. Maybe they measured me with skates on or I had a ponytail that day:) At the doctor’s I’m 5’5” or 5’4 ¾ “ but I say 5’5”, it makes me feel better"she laughed.
So Cetacean Nation asked Bree to set the record straight on her transfer as well, and she did so, admitting
“It wasn’t an easy decision. My going to Wisconsin as a school was literally one of the best experiences of my life. I truly look back on my college career and regardless of the hockey statistics, everyone wants theirs to be better, I think I got the best of both worlds. I went to a Big Ten school, a big environment, then I was able to go to a smaller East coast school, where hockey was the dominant sport. I’m very thankful for both of thise experiences. The people I met at Wisconsin were awesome. But the reasons why I left? I was frustrated, I wished I played more. And I was at a point where I thought I deserved a little bit more than I was getting. That’s OK, that happens sometimes. A lot of people have different styles of coaching and different player profiles that they particularly scout for. The easy thing to do would’ve probably been to just stay at Wisconsin. I would have played a lot my junior and senior year, And keep in mind that my freshman year at Wisconsin, it was not traditional. We had none of our coaches. Coach Johnson wasn’t there, and Dan Cook left to go to Shattuck-Saint Mary’s. It was a very tense year for everyone first coming into college.”
”I had two years left of hockey and I had to kind of do what I had to do, to put myself in the right environment. Like when I look back in 20 years, what would that look like? I was also super passionate about Cass (Cassandra Turner, Assistant at Quinnipiac). Originally while Cass was at Colgate, she was someone I stayed close with through the U22 program with team Canada. So I started having coversation with Cass. and decided to to do something different.And I really thought Cass was a coach that could help develop me, and pursue my goals. So she was a lot of the reason why I went to Quinnipiac. There were certain schools that Wisconsin would not let me transfer to when I was looking at doing that. There was interest from other schools in the same conference so specifically they would not let me transfer to those. Or anyone we were playing the next season for example BU, they were playing them the next season. So super happy that I did it. I played so much at Quinnipiac, and I was able to be a leader on the team. it’s so crazy the environment of the school It’s such a different world! Even though Wisconsin is a Big Ten school the facilities at Quinnipiac are amazing! And that’s where you spend the majority of your time. From the schooling perspective, it was really eye-opening for me. I had always been a good student. But in a Big Ten school you’re in a class with 500 people:) I never used to go to class, I would literally just teach myself and go to my exams because I did not learn from somebody just lecturing me.”