Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Caps boast family ties

Out here, the last name 'Brodt' may not be too familiar.

But in Minnesota, they're synonymous with hockey — especially the women's game.

Four of them — head coach Jack, equipment manager and skating guru Marlene, captain Winny, and younger sister Chelsey — came with the Minnesota Whitecaps to compete in this year's Clarkson Cup, presented by Scotiabank.

Unfortunately, the tournament hasn't gone the way they'd hoped for it to, losing the opener on Thursday to Montreal and being blanked by Toronto 6-0 on Friday.

"It's been a tough weekend so far, to come all of this way and lose both games thus far," Chelsey said. "We're here, having fun playing hockey, but we've been having trouble putting the puck in the net."

A big part of the reason why the defending champs are 0-2 was the play of Toronto goaltender Sami Jo Small, who stopped 40 shots for the shutout on her 35th birthday.

"Sami Jo played spectacular, but we weren't able to finish our opportunities," Jack said. "We had three breakaways in the third period and couldn't score."

Although they've had a difficult go to this point, it's been nice for the family to continue their hockey tradition together.

"I coached them when they were mites," Jack said. "My wife taught them how to skate, but I was coaching them since they were five or six years old."

It's been a while, but now things have come full circle for the girls.

"After I began, I played boys hockey all the way up, so I didn't get the chance to play for my dad until I returned to play for the Minnesota Whitecaps," Winny said.

"It's funny, because he started my career, and he'll be coaching me at the end of it, too."

They've enjoyed it, even when the coach gives them a hard time.

"The truth of the matter is, maybe I expect a little bit more from them," Jack said. "I guess, because of our relationship, I'll be a little harder on them than the other girls."

But as a whole, Jack loves having this opportunity.

"It's cool," he said. "I really enjoy it. It's been interesting, but it's definitely been a good trip so far."

He's coached Winny now for seven years, and a big part of the reason that she's able to keep on going is because of who she's working with.

"Having that family support is one reason why I've been able to play for as long as I have," said Winny, the first woman to win an NCAA hockey title with two different schools.

"If I didn't have them, I don't know if I'd still be playing."

Chelsey and Winny also played a year together at the University of Minnesota, but despite both being defencemen, they don't get a lot of ice together.

"We play a pretty similar game, so we it's not a good idea to stick us out there together," Chelsey said.

To just consider their mom by her official team title of equipment manager would be a great disservice to what she's done for both the girls and hockey in Minnesota.

"I'm a bit of a pioneer and a role model to my girls, because I was playing before there was even women's hockey in Minnesota," Marlene said.

She taught Chelsey, Winny, and older sister Kerry how to skate, and now she's on to the next generation.

"Kerry has given me four granddaughters, and now I'm teaching them how to skate," Marlene said. "It's been a thrill."

Even when Chelsey and Winny's season is over, the hockey calendar doesn't yet end for the family.

"I'll be going to Florida for a tournament for women 50 and over," said Marlene, whose team has won the competition in three of the past four years.

And with four of the Brodts involved with the Whitecaps, things have truly been a family affair.

"It's been a lot of fun, watching my kids go from mites to this," Marlene said. "To have them be able to skate together at this point is great."