After an offensive renaissance that made the 2014-15 season the greatest in Calgary Inferno history, the acquisition of Brianne Jenner adds to the promise of an even greater season ahead. Selected in the first round, fourth overall in the 2015 CWHL Draft, Jenner holds the potential to become the first rookie since Meghan Agosta in 2011-12 to win the Angela James Bowl, awarded to the league’s scoring champion.
Of note, Jenner holds a lot in common with the recipient of the 2015 Angela James Bowl. Rebecca Johnston, who became the first member of the Inferno to capture the league scoring title, and league MVP honors, has called Jenner a teammate on two separate occasions. Not only did their elite skills intersect at the Ivy League’s Cornell Big Red (where both amassed over 200 career points), the two were members of the Canadian contingent that won an emotional gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Considering that the Inferno represents the third time these two prodigious talents shall be part of the same roster, a new goal awaits them. In the nascent history of the Clarkson Cup, no team from Western Canada has ever claimed it, let alone played in the final round. The first Western Canadian team to vie for it was the now defunct Calgary Oval X-Treme, competing in 2009. Jenner and Johnston may bring about such change, while bringing about a new historic chapter in Cup lore.
There is no question that Johnston’s arrival to the Inferno last autumn brought about a great shift to the team’s offensive outlook. This season, Jenner’s arrival may result in altering the league’s balance of power.
Although championship expectations may bring with it a certain degree of pressure for any highly touted first-year player in the CWHL, it is also testament to their talents. Taking into account that third round pick Jillian Saulnier also played with Jenner at Cornell, it constitutes a familiarity that should make the transition to the CWHL much more enjoyable for both.
The passion that Jenner brings to the game complements a world class talent that first shone in Calgary back in 2008. As the host city for the inaugural IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Hockey Championships, the event served as a glorious window into the future. Jenner was part of a Canadian roster that featured the likes of Bailey Bram and Natalie Spooner. One year later, Jenner was back with Team Canada, serving as the team captain.
Fast forward to 2015 and Jenner has matured into a remarkable leader and integral member for any team that she plays for. Instantly becoming part of the conversation for the CWHL Rookie of the Year consideration, her entry into the league also holds the added benefit of being joined by Hayley Wickenheiser, claimed in the second round of this year’s draft. A transcendent figure that helped break barriers and raise awareness of the sport, Wickenheiser’s sojourn with the Inferno is more than just nostalgic; it represents one more remarkable run, blending renewal and remembrance.