One last campaign. One last hurrah. One last shot at glory.
Whatever you want to call it, Red Deer native Brett Bothwell knows this season, his second manning the pipes for Calgary’s Mount Royal University Cougars, will likely be his last playing competitive hockey.
“I guess you never know, but I’m kind of hoping to get on with my life and get a job and maybe some more schooling,” said the 24-year-old, who is slated to graduate from the school’s business administration program next spring.
It’s fair to say life as a goaltender has been unkind to Bothwell in recent years. After stopping pucks for Yorkton of the SJHL for two seasons, he earned an athletic scholarship at Wayne State University, a Detroit-based Division 1 NCAA school, but two years later — at the end of the 2007-08 season — the institution opted to drop its men’s hockey program.
After that, Bothwell said he began “bouncing around.” First, he endured a brief stint with New York’s Union College before being denied a spot at Brock University. Finally, he landed at Mount Royal last season but still struggled to earn a great deal of playing time.
Despite this, the upbeat puck-stopper said he still learned a great deal as a rookie in the Cougars program.
“The coaches have been really helpful and they teach you to work hard,” Bothwell said.
“For this league (the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference), I think our team probably has one of the best setups.”
Cougars head coach Jean Laforest said Bothwell has been a welcome addition to his squad. He pointed out that Bothwell excelled in the classroom last season, earning the highest grade-point average on the team and recognition as a Canadian Colleges Athletic Association scholar of distinction.
“He is a student athlete that represents our core values with respect to the character and total performance both on the ice and in the classroom,” Laforest said.
As for Bothwell’s outlook on the ice this season, Laforest said he is a “primary candidate” for the team’s starting netminder position, but his pre-season performance will weigh heavily on any final decisions made.
“Brett is a very poised and calm goaltender,” Laforest added. “Our team has played well in front of him due to the confidence our players have in his abilities. He is not prone to giving up weak goals and gives the opposition few good second chances on scoring opportunities.”
The support of the Cougars coaching staff has provided encouragement to Bothwell this past off-season in Red Deer, as he has kept busy training on and off the ice. He said the allure of one last run at a championship still weighs heavily on his mind.
“I would like to obviously play as much as possible, but we’ll see what happens,” Bothwell said.
“There’s always new guys coming up, you’re always competing. It’s never a sure thing that you are going to play.
“It would definitely be nice to go out on top, to end everything as a winner.”
Jeremy Nolais is a Calgary-area sports columnist whose column appears in the Advocate every second Wednesday