It has been a long road, but Amber Broker is finally home.
Well, closer to home as the 20-year-old is now playing with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team after sitting out last year and spending the two previous seasons in Ontario.
“When I came back last year Steve (Huskies coach Steve Kook) asked if I wanted to play and I said no,” recalled Broker recently. “After a year off I decided to play because I thought if I can still play I better take advantage of it. I’m a competitive person and I know when I am done I will miss it.”
Broker developed her skills as a solid defenseman during three years of Midget AAA hockey with the Prince Albert A&W Bears. Broker was captain of that club her final year and helped the team win its one and only provincial championship.
An early birthday made her ineligible to return to the Bears so it forced her to look elsewhere to continue playing the game and she went to Mississauga, Ont., to play with the Junior Chiefs. When the season was over she returned home to graduate from Carlton Comprehensive High School with her friends, but an opportunity had presented itself for the following year.
Broker returned to Ontario that fall as she landed a spot with the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks, but after one season she knew it was time to come back to Saskatchewan.
“After being in Ontario for two years I was just ready to come home,” says Broker. “I wasn’t getting played as much as I thought I would and they were only going to have two players graduating, one of them being a goalie, so I knew I’d be in the same position.”
Hockey didn’t follow her back home though as rather than being red-shirted for the one season that is required when a player changes teams, she opted to take a full load of classes towards her psychology degree.
“I was bored,” laughs Broker, who intends to use her undergraduate degree in psychology to get a degree in occupational therapy. “This year I’m on the ice every day and taking four classes – it is the right workload.”
Broker admits that getting back on skates was a bit of work at the beginning, but she is working hard and hoping to get increased responsibilities in the future.
“I’m getting regular ice time and trying to work my way onto the pk (penalty kill) and pp (power play),” says Broker. “I think I am definitely well adjusted to it. Laurier kind of opened my eyes (to the game at the university level).”
The Huskies are off to a slow start this year winning just twice and tying two others in their first 10 games, but Broker is encouraged as the club has 14 players that are in either their first or second year of eligibility.
Broker also has a lot of familiar faces on the team as Chelsey Sundby, Danny Stone and Carlee Hrenkiw are all former teammates of hers with the Bears. Lindsay Karst is another former Bear and three other players that spent time honing their skills in Prince Albert – Courtney Hillman, Teegan Heinz and Kelsey Kirkham – could all have secured spots on the team as well, but have opted not to for a variety of reasons.
There is a smile on her face again and Broker says she is exactly where she wants to be.
“I’m not regretting my decision to come home at all,” says Broker. “When I was at Laurier, by Christmas time I just wanted to be out of there. Here I haven’t had that thought at all so hopefully it keeps going good.”