Four days. Six teams. One hockey champ.
Good hands means goals for Petrie
Good hands means goals for Petrie
By Pat Kane
Combine vision, leadership, maturity and desire together and what do you get? A person who is capable of leading a group of elite athletes to a national championship.
It is a lot of pressure, but if anyone is up to the challenge, it is the Western Mustangs hockey team captain, Jeff Petrie. A fifth-year student at Western and a London native, Petrie began playing hockey as a five-year-old and has blossomed into one of the most dedicated and respected players on the university circuit.
The Oakridge Secondary School graduate made his way through the ranks of AAA teams and then packed his gear when he moved on to the Trenton Sting in the Junior A Tier II. Blessed with intangibles often overlooked by coaches, Petrie had to get noticed the hard way with hard work.
"I feel very lucky and humbled Western gave me the chance to play. Most of the guys around the league are graduates of the [Ontario Hockey League] and [Canadian Hockey Association]. It's a great privilege to be playing among so many other talented individuals," Petrie said.
Petrie's teammate and friend, defenceman Joe Birch, described Petrie as a blue-collar player who takes a business-like approach in the dressing room.
"Jeff is a workhorse with good hands. He is a very well-rounded athlete who brings a work ethic to the dressing room that is second to none," he said.
"He is the type of leader who speaks up when the time is right and is a very approachable person. He is not condescending to the younger guys and carries himself in a mature fashion," Birch added.
In an era where media and hockey analysts often bash 'the quiet leader,' it can be rare to find a player who can go about his business, allow other players to follow, and help a team become one of the elite squads in Canadian university hockey.
Petrie has also played an important role at the international level, as a third-year player, he was named to the Team Canada roster for the World University Games in Slovakia.
"The time I had in Slovakia was definitely one of the highlights of my career," Petrie said.
"It gave me a chance to play with and against some of the best hockey players around. It is an experience I'll always remember," he added.
It is no mistake Petrie has made such a name for himself in the hockey world. This season, Petrie finished first in team power-play goals, first in game winning goals, and fifth in team points.
Defenceman Matt Munro praised Petrie as a player who has truly earned his success.
"[Petrie] is a great competitor first and foremost. He always wants the puck and leads this team by the way he carries himself on and off the ice," Munro said.
Petrie and the rest of the Western Mustangs team will be bringing their game to Kitchener this weekend, for the Canadian Inter-university Athletic Union championships.
"Last year's CIAU was a great experience, but I think we'll be going in to this year's championships better prepared and more focussed. We know what to expect and I think we can play just as good, if not better, than the strong Atlantic and Western [Canadian] teams," Petrie said.
With Petrie in the spotlight, surrounded by a tremendously talented supporting cast, the Western Mustangs will be aiming to bring a national title to the University of Western Ontario.