The playoffs are always the peak of every hockey season, but for the graduating captains of the London Nationals, this year’s playoff round meant a little more knowing that it would be their last shot.
Captain Brenden Trottier and assistant captains Derek Di Iorio, Brandon Glover and Carson Brookshaw will be retiring from the team and hanging up their skates after this season. All four have been captains of the Nationals since the start of the year, following the retirement of Nationals alumni Austin Kemp. Kemp’s leadership, Brookshaw says, inspired each of them to perform their best roles as leaders throughout the year.
After enjoying a successful regular season and winning the GOJHL Western Conference Championship for the third year in a row, the Nationals have attributed their success to their positive attitudes and coaching style.
“This program has given me friends that will last my entire life and a coaching staff that will continuously follow up and check in on me after I’m done playing,” said Brandon Glover. “They know there’s more than hockey in this life, and that a lot of the guys on the team are in school and work. I think that’s what drives our team to be successful – the ability to understand and feel that all of your teammates and coaches truly care about you.”
Since it’s their last year, the captains have expressed that this year’s playoffs have taken on even more meaning.
“The other two years we still obviously gave it everything we had, but knowing this is your last shot adds a little bit more sentimental value to it,” said Brenden Trottier. “I’m really hoping we can take it all the way this year.”
As the pressure increases in the playoffs, the captains play an integral role in being prime motivators for the rest of the players. Glover identified that a positive mindset is their driving force for success.
“You need to pick up your teammates when they’re down and have a good attitude,” he said.
But regardless of the outcome for the Nationals during the Sutherland Cup Championships this year, the true win for the players is the friendships and the skills they’ve gained that will last a lifetime.
And what is their final advice as they compete in their last playoff run as members of the London Nationals?
“Enjoy it,” said Trottier. “I’ve been playing in the league for five years now, and it goes by fast. Have fun and don’t take each year for granted. And most importantly, always be a good teammate.”
“Don’t take it for granted,” said Glover. “It went by really fast, and I know that I never stressed about hockey that much, but some guys do get a little worked up. So, just take a moment and realize that you are still playing a game that you love and that you are good at. There is no need to stress or panic.”
“Live it up while you can because before you know it you’re in your last year and making your last run,” said Di Iorio. “So, have fun while you’re doing it.”
“Just keep with the coaches’ systems, work hard, and support the new guys coming in,” said Brookshaw. “Show them the ‘Nationals way.”
Submitted by the London Nationals