by Warren Rappleyea
Bailey Brant enters his final Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) season with an eye on earning an NCAA Division I scholarship, as he looks to help the Junior Senators to third successive Bogart and Fred Page cups.
The Greely, ON resident joined Ottawa early in the 2017-18 campaign and has been a fixture on the blue line ever since he arrived from the Nepean Raiders. The hard-hitting Brant helps ensure that opponents are skating with their heads up, particularly when they’re in the Junior Senators’ zone.
“Any time I have the chance I look to make a hit or rub someone out along the boards,” the 20-year-old said. “The coaches like that and it gets the guys on the bench going. Hitting gets me into the game more. Even when I get hit it energizes me.”
While known for his physical play, there is much more to Brant’s game. He’s solid and dependable defensively, makes good breakout passes and, more important, he’s consistent game in and game out—and has become kind of the glue that holds the Junior Senators together. GM/Coach Martin Dagenais has come to rely heavily on the 6-2, 197-pounder.
“Bailey could be the most underappreciated defenseman in the CCHL,” Dagenais said. “He’s the type of player that you need to watch four-to-five times to understand his value to the team. I honestly think there’s not a better defensive defenseman in the league. He doesn’t get beat 1-on-1; doesn’t lose many battles; he’ll block shots, hits like a train; and he’s pretty much always playing with some sort of injury.”
Although Brant is more of a quiet kind of guy, his work ethic and competitiveness resulted in his being named an alternate captain by the coaching staff. During his tenure in Nepean, Brant also served in that role and that experience will help him this time around, as he plans to be more vocal and work on encouraging the team’s many younger players.
Brant knows the expectations are high so he worked out six times each week and also spent a significant amount of time on the ice. That’s in addition to running the landscaping business he created. As both a hockey player and an entrepreneur he is well aware that hard work and diligence are rewarded.
“We’ve been to the big dance [National Junior A Championship] two years in a row and we didn’t win,” Brant explained. “I want to do everything I can to make sure we get back there and get into the finals.”
To help make that happen, Brant, who owns a hard slap shot and excels at one-timers, is working to upgrade his offense after scoring a goal and adding 12 assists in 61 games last season.
“The coaches want me to get more shots through from the point,” he said. “I have a pretty good shot and if I can get it to the net more often it will help us score more goals.”
Clearly preparation is a key part of Brant’s game—besides all the gym and practice time—that comes right down to his game-day meals. Breakfast is oatmeal with two slices of bread covered in peanut butter and his pre-game selection is rice with chicken stir-fry.
“It’s just my way of getting ready,” Brant chuckled.
“He’s always ready,” Dagenais said. “We’re just not the same team when he’s not in the lineup.”