Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - Submitted by Jeremy Rochow
When the AIHL season ends in late August/early September, there are a handful of Australians who head off overseas to further chase their ice hockey dreams, either playing or aspiring towards a professional league.
One of the players aspiring to crack the professional ranks is Melbourne Ice forward Jeremy Brown. He has returned to his birth country, Canada, where he is playing junior hockey. Brown studies criminology at Champlain college in Sherbrooke, Quebec and was named captain of their hockey team, the Cougars, this year.
Balancing hockey and school can be a challenge for Brown with training, homework and classes taking up his week.
“The combination of school and hockey is very hard but useful once you get through it,” Brown said. “Hockey six times a week doesn’t always fit well with six to seven hours of class four times a week.”
For Brown, rink size and the age of the players are the main differences between playing in Australia and Canada. Canadian junior hockey has players aged between 17 and 20 years old, while the AIHL has an older average age.
“Olympic ice rinks changes the game more than we can think and other rinks don’t have glass—no surprise that it’s quite unusual,” he said. “As for the age group, I have been used to playing against guys around my age range; Australia is mostly grown men, which makes it more challenging.”
Brown played in an all-star weekend recently, with some of the best junior hockey players from Ontario and Quebec coming together to compete. He said the weekend was a great experience, and gave him an opportunity to play in front of scouts from across North America and Europe.
“It is a great window for scouts to get a pair of eyes on you,” Brown said. “The tournament is like an all-star weekend, but it’s the perfect way to sell your name to scouts."
Last year Brown managed 19 goals and 30 assists for the Sherbrooke Cougars and won the Australian Ice Hockey League rookie of the year in 2014. This year he has even been called up by the Victoriaville Tigres of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League [QMJHL]. Brown has played three games with the Tigres with an assist and a plus/minus of -1.
Melbourne Ice coach, Brent Laver, praised the way Brown plays his hockey and thinks he has a good chance of playing professional hockey in North America.
“He [Brown] doesn’t know any other way except 100 per cent, 100 per cent of the time,” Laver said. “That’s just the way he operates and that was evident as soon as he stepped on the ice.”
Brown played a full season for the Melbourne Ice in 2014 and had an outstanding year, scoring five goals and making fourteen assists, snagging the 2014 rookie of the year title. Laver said playing hockey in Canada will improve Jeremy’s game, as he will be immersed in the sport.
“I relate it to AFL in Melbourne; if you spend anytime in North America you get a real understanding that it’s a cultural thing, it’s every conversation you’re having, whether you’re on a bus or at a bar,” Laver said. “It’s that understanding of the game and the preparation you need to play at a high level.”
Brown’s ultimate goal is to play in the NHL, but he is taking it one step at a time, aiming to play in Europe or the East Coast League first and work his way towards the top tier of hockey.
Laver believes that Brown has the ability to play professional hockey in North America one day.
“He’s definitely got the tools, but more importantly he’s got the desire and work ethic,” Laver said. “In North America, to play professional hockey things have to fall in place—you’ve got to have that edge of luck and a spot on a roster has to open up, but as far as pure ability and the type of head on his shoulders, I have no doubts that he could do it.”
Playing in the QMJHL, Jeremy Brown is following in the footsteps of NHL hall-of- famers, Patrick Roy and Mario Lemieux, who also started their careers in the league. Who knows, Jeremy Brown could be the next to join that illustrious company.
September 20, 2014 Bleedorange - A Celebration of 2014 | MOAT: Melbourne Mustangs
A look back at the 2014 championship season for the MOAT: Melbourne Mu...
October 2, 2014 2015 Coors Light Stadium Series - Kings vs. Sharks
The San Jose Sharks host the Los Angeles Kings in a regular-season out...