Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - Submitted by Jordan Scardetta
The Perth Thunder’s surge to the top of the AIHL standings, riding on the back of six consecutive wins at the start of the season, caught many neutral observers off guard. But one man who hasn’t been surprised by the start is Thunder forward Jonathon Bremner.
Despite the weekend’s results where Perth lost one game in regulation and one in a shootout, the Thunder are still currently sitting first in the AIHL standings for the second consecutive week. They're enjoying their best ever start to a season.
Bremner said there were a number of contributing factors making the 2015 season stand out from the previous three since the Thunder entered the AIHL, including the pre-season series against the New Zealand Ice Blacks.
“We don’t often get the opportunity to have games in the pre-season in Perth due to the logistics,” Bremner said. “Generally going into the season, the Eastern states teams have a leg-up on us because they get to play some pre-season competition and we’ve never had that.
“The games against the Kiwis were a really good opportunity to get some game time under our belts going into the season and get a much quicker start than we had in the past”.
Bremner, who has a degree in health science and is studying to become a doctor, has been a member of the Thunder since their inception in 2012 and is currently, like his team, enjoying a good start to the season having scored four points (two goals, two assists) from eight games.
He found his way to the Thunder from his background playing inline hockey, having represented Australia at a junior level, a transition that’s tougher than it seems.
“It was a lot of fun making the transition; it’s a lot more challenging,” Bremner said. “I played World Championships, and still do, for inline hockey, and being able to play this level of ice hockey without having to travel internationally is a real treat.
“(I made the transition) when I was 19 so it made it a lot harder. It’s easier to make the change when you’re still developing but I had a lot of inline habits that weren’t conducive to success in ice hockey.
“It was tough to iron out a few creases, with my skating stride and the way the game is played at forward is totally different. I skated as a kid, but that experience was no real help given how much time I’d spent on inline skates, so it really was like learning how to skate all over again.”
After an injury-interrupted 2014 season, Bremner is enjoying an upturn in fortunes this season, aiming to get back to his 2013 form where he scored 16 points (10 goals, six assists) from 23 games.
“I feel like I’m fitter than I was last season. I was coming off an injury last season. My off season preparation was a bit different to what it has been in the past,” Bremner said.
“Over the course of the year I got banged up quite a bit, and I needed this past off-season to rest a disc injury in my back and my shoulders, which I had problems with when I was a teenager.”
Bremner also credits his start to the season to playing on the third line with familiar line mates Brad Young and Liam Jeffries.
“I’m really enjoying playing with the line mates I’ve got,” Bremner said. “We don’t play like a third line. We create a lot of offence.”
“Playing with Brad and Liam takes me back to my childhood. We all played inline together when we were about 10 years old so it’s been really refreshing and we’re all just having so much fun.”
Bremner also believes the Thunder’s form is sustainable, and is upbeat about the prospect of returning to the AIHL playoffs after bottoming out last season.
“Any time you start a season without the goal of making the playoffs you’re selling yourself short,” Bremner said. “We haven’t ever won games at this pace, so we’re really trying the old cliché of keeping it game by game but we’re just looking to keep the ball rolling.”
“We’re pretty confident we’ve got a group of local guys and some imports who can do some damage. We’re confident in our own ability and that our locals can mix it up with the best locals in the league and I think our imports can do the same with the other imports in the league.”