Feb. 23, 2018

Epic hockey battle in Pyeongchang ends with consolation silver for Brianne Jenner

UCalgary alumna grateful for Canadians' support after women team's heart-breaking shootout loss to U.S.

Author

Scott Cruickshank, for University Relations

University of Calgary alumna  Brianne Jenner tweeted: "Thank you to all the Canadians who were behind us yesterday. It has been an honour to represent you."

Brianne Jenner tweeted: "Thank you to all the Canadians who were behind us yesterday."

Canadian Olympic Committee

When Brianne Jenner was a little kid, she had an idea.

She would become a great goaltender. Not surprisingly, she let her parents in on her plan. So Dave Jenner — who himself had blocked pucks in the old Ontario Hockey Association before tending nets at the University of Toronto — did what dads do. He tried to make his daughter happy.

"One morning when I woke up there was goalie pads and stuff all around the bed," Jenner said last month. "My dad had gone out and got everything."

And, safely nestled in proper gear, her career in the crease had been born, right? Not so fast.

"I tried it out," said Jenner, with a laugh, "and I said, 'It's too boring. You're not part of the action.'" She certainly fixed that. The strong-skating winger, it's fair to say, has been in the middle of the action ever since.

The latest in a long list of achievements was Jenner's central role for the Canadian women's hockey team at the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. On and off the ice, she thrived.

In the difficult aftermath of the 3-2 shootout loss to the United States — a result that left the Canadians with silver medals — Jenner took time to salute the legion of supporters back home.

"That's fantastic and it's something that we don't take lightly," Jenner said to CBC Olympics via Facebook Live. "When you wear the Maple Leaf and especially when you're in a program like Hockey Canada — we've had such a great legacy — we take that responsibility seriously. We try to represent our country the best that we can."

Brianne Jenner, third from left, and teammates watch a hockey game during the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

Brianne Jenner, third from left, and teammates watch a hockey game during the 2018 Olympics.

Twitter photo courtesy @briannejenner

Not lost on anyone, either, had been the intensity of the rivalry with the Americans. Some call it the most fierce feud in all of sports.

"Part of it is we've had so many epic battles in past Olympics," said Jenner, who, in November, graduated with a master's degree in public policy from the University of Calgary. "I think (this one) didn't disappoint. We had to go to four periods and a shootout in order to decide it. Unfortunately, we came out on the wrong side this time."

It wasn't due to a lack of effort. Prior to puck-drop, the Canadians had been stoked, according to Jenner, who, as part of the team's leadership group, wore an 'A' on her sweater. "You prepare so much for that moment," she said. "Our support staff and our coaches got us so ready that we were pretty confident."

After the match's fruitless overtime came the shootout. Jenner, selected to go in the fifth round, was turned away by goalie Maddie Rooney.

But the 26-year-old had an impact in Pyeongchang. During the preliminary round, Jenner set up a pair of game-opening goals — Rebecca Johnston's against Russia, Meghan Agosta's against the Americans — and finished the tournament with a plus-two rating.

The morning after the final game, Jenner tweeted to her 8,800 followers: "Thank you to all the Canadians who were behind us yesterday. It has been an honour to represent you. We are disappointed but we will move fwd with our heads held high."

Jenner is no stranger to this stage. She competed at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where the Canadians claimed gold. Her goal in the championship match against the Americans kick-started a comeback that was capped by an overtime triumph. Jenner has called the podium-topping result a "fairy tale." 

But before glory, there had been heartbreak for Jenner. As a teenager, she deferred her freshman year at Cornell University after being invited to Calgary to audition for Team Canada in the months leading up to the 2010 Olympics. She was cut before the team left for Vancouver.

"A bit of a blur," recalled Jenner. "I had to grow up really quick … it was a pretty amazing experience. Obviously, it was disappointing to not be on that team, but I felt really lucky that Hockey Canada gave me that experience at such a young age. It fuelled a fire in me."

Brianne Jenner - Team Canada