Like the majority of players in the Alberta Junior Hockey League Brennan Davis had thoughts of playing college hockey in the United States.
But an unfortunate injury spelled the end of those dreams for the RDP Kings second-year defenceman.
During his 20-year-old season, Davis took an errant high stick across his nose and right eye during practice with the Camrose Kodiaks resulting in the loss of vision in his eye.
“The shaft of the stick caught me across the nose and eye and forced me to have stitches in that eye and a couple of surgeries,” Brennan explained. “When they finally opened it up the retina was completely beaten up and my optic nerve was partially severed.”
“I had to learn to adapt to get back to normal and I have to wear a cage to protect the other eye, but not using that as an excuse.”
There is no reason to have an excuse as Davis is one of the Kings’ top rearguards and leads the team in assists with 10 in 14 games — fourth in the Alberta Colleges Men’s Hockey League.
Brennan, who shoots right, usually plays on the right side.
“It makes it a bit easier because of the vision, but I can play the left side if needed, I just have to look certain ways more than the other.”
Kings head coach Trevor Keeper can only shake his head when talking about Davis.
“He’s amazing, I can’t imagine playing like that. It doesn’t bother him. I think a couple of the other teams are starting to realize that and are taking runs at him from that side, but he’s a solid player.”
Brennan was born in Wetaskiwin but grew up in Camrose, playing the majority of his minor hockey in the city.
He got into playing defence in novice, thanks to his father.
“He played defence and got me going in that direction.”
Brennan did play U18 with the OHA Edmonton Prep organization for two seasons before signing with the Kodiaks in the 2016-17 season.
‘I grew up watching them (Kodiaks) and wanted to play for them,” said the six-foot, 175-pound 22 year-old. “It’s a first-class organization with a lot of history and the coaches helped me a lot.”
Once he made the AJHL squad his thoughts turned to a U.S. scholarship.
“I wanted to go Division I like everyone else, as I wanted to take hockey as far as I could, but Red Deer is still a great program and I’m glad to be here,” he said.
Brennan talked with Keeper even prior to the injury. The injury didn’t prevent the Kings veteran coach from recruiting him.
“I came down for a visit and saw the facility and campus and it’s top-notch,” he said.
There are also a number of former Kodiaks with the Kings including two of the team’s leading scorers — Jacob Kendall and Erik Miller.
“It makes it easier for sure and Erik and I have roomed together the past two years. Hopefully, a few more guys come down.”
While Davis is the top offensive defenceman on the Kings, he doesn’t see himself that way.
“Growing up my dad said defence first and it wasn’t until in bantam when I started to work the 200-foot game. I’m certainly not the best offensive -defenceman by any means but I want to play, and enjoying playing, the full 200-feet and use my skating to my advantage.”
That style was perfect for the Kings.
“When I talked with Trevor he said he wanted his D-men to join the rush and push the pace and if you look at our team all the defencemen can skate and are skilled.”
Brennan not only joins the play five-on-five, but plays on the power play.
Not only is Davis solid on the ice, he’s a leader in the dressing room.
“He’s a good solid, two-way player … a smooth skater and agile and has a high hockey IQ which shows in the classroom as he has a 4.0 Grade Point Average,” said Keeper. “That’s why he’s in our leadership group. He leads by example on and off the ice. He’s not overly vocal but the guys respect him and when he talks they listen.”
Brennan is in his second and final year of Justice Studies but will likely finish his five-year career with the Kings.
“I’ve talked with my grandma, who helps me a lot with my studies, about switching to take psychology or sociology, just to open by options.”
“It’s good to have players of his calibre sticking around,” added Keeper. “The more fourth and fifth-year players who have the better the team.”
The Kings are one of the younger teams in the ACAC, which shows at times with their inconsistency. A good example of that came last weekend when they travelled to Camrose and defeated the Vikings 6-2 then returned home Saturday and lost 5-2 to the Vikings.
“We’re trying to become more consistent and that comes with maturity,” said Keeper. “We’re in the middle of the pack when it comes to age and as we grow together we’ll gain that maturity. As far as I know we’ll lose possibly only three guys next year so that’s exciting.”
“We’re definitely a skilled team but one of the younger teams’ added Davis. “The more we work together the more chemistry we’ll have .. right now we’re still learning.”
The Kings have a big weekend ahead of them as they face the SAIT Trojans in a home-and-home Friday in Calgary and Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Gary W Harris Canada Games Centre. The teams are tied for first at 9-5.
In fact it’s a big weekend for all the RDP squads.
Both the volleyball and basketball teams meet Ambrose in a two-game set.
The volleyball squads are at home Friday and on the road Saturday and visa-versa for the basketball teams.
Both Kings and Queens basketball teams are 6-6 with Ambrose at 7-5. In volleyball the Queens have a big weekend if they hope to move up in the standings as they sit at 6-5 with Ambrose first at 1l-3. The Kings are first in the South at 10-1 and Ambrose at 7-7.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at email@example.com