St. Thomas native will participate in hockey Rivalry Series vs USA
Monday, February 11, 2019
By Rob J. Ross
ST. THOMAS - When Brittany Howard was a 10-year old shooting pucks in her backyard, skating for Team Canada was simply a dream shared by her teammates on the BAD Girls Atom Blazers.
Fast forward 13 years and the now 23-year old St. Thomas native is on the eve of pulling on the Canadian jersey and wearing it for a three game Rivalry Series against the United States.
Game one is at Bud Gardens in London, February 12th. Game two is at Scotiabank Arena, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, on February 14th, with the finale at Little Caesars Arenas home of the Detroit Red Wings, February 17th.
This event also serves as a Team Canada evaluation for the world championship in Finland this April.
"A dream come true," expressed Howard. "As a young female growing up in St. Thomas it was something you dream about, putting on the jersey and representing your country. For it to happen is pretty amazing."
Howard is currently in her rookie season for the Toronto Furies of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL).
Last May, the Parkside C.I. alumna finished her scholarship ride at Robert Morris University (RMU) in Pittsburgh. It was around this time Howard received a call inviting her to a Team Canada conditioning camp.
"It was definitely very exciting," Howard recalls.
The camp was for the under-22 team, but Howard was invited as an overager, "to get the feel of the Team Canada experience," because it was her first time in the Canadian program. The former BAD Blazer and London Devilette impressed enough to earn an invite to the senior camp last September.
Howard likely placed herself on Team Canada's radar with her remarkable NCAA career at RMU.
One of the most decorated players in RMU women's hockey history, Howard graduated last spring as the all-time leading scorer with 79 goals and 102 assists for 181 points. Howard surpassed the previous leader, with a five point game, including a natural hat trick.
Three times on the All-CHA (College Hockey America) first team and once on the second team, Howard was the CHA player of the year for both 2017 and 2018. For her final season Howard was named second team ACHA (American Collegiate Hockey Association) All-American and was a Patty Kazmaier Award top-10 finalist, for the top female hockey player in the United States.
Howard made a name for herself in the Steel City outside of hockey, by winning the 2017 Dapper Dan Charities Pittsburgh Sportswoman of the Year. Her male counterpart winner was NHL star Sidney Crosby.
"Over the last couple years I was able to acquire a couple pretty cool accomplishments," said Howard. "But without the coaches and my teammates at RMU, I wouldn't have been able to reach some of those goals and the accolades. I definitely was able to experience some very cool and different things in Pittsburgh."
Along with skating for the Furies, Howard is attending teacher's college in Toronto, following the footsteps of her mom, Anne, a teacher at PCI and her dad, Scott.
The Furies recently played three league games in China and for the road trip Howard's roommate was Olympian Natalie Spooner.
"I learn from her habits. I watch how she trains on and the ice and the mental side of the game which is so important now days," Howard said. "You take tips each time you're on the ice and hopefully establish them in your own game."
Howard remembers her Blazers' days, playing alongside her sister Brooke and also helping the New Sarum Huskies win the TVDSB AA girls' basketball title in back to back seasons. Brittany continues friendships from both teams including good friend Brooke Carr. Friends and family will be watching the rising Canadian star in person at Bud Gardens.
"It's cool going back to your old stomping grounds and to be playing in London. Back in the day I never thought this would come true," said Howard. "It was always a dream to make it to this point, but at that time, even just shooting pucks in the back yard with my mom, you always hope but you never know where hockey will take you."
That could be potentially the world championships and the 2022 Olympics.
"I'm staying positive and taking it one step at a time."