Jonathon Bremner is no stranger to athletic pursuits, settling on hockey after sampling pretty much everything else on the sporting smorgasbord.
“I’m a tragic sports fan, I’ve played most sports you could think of. Hockey, footy, rugby, tennis, basketball, golf, rowing, cricket, soccer, swimming and athletics,” said Bremner.
The Perth Thunder forward is now in his third season with the club and enjoying representing hockey on the West Coast.
Perth Thunder have had a rough start in 2014. 1 shootout win and a slew of losses to start their 2014 campaign currently sees the side sitting at the back of the pack. Two imports have arrived late due to playoff runs in their respective leagues. Another, Corey Toy, had to go undergo surgery to repair a broken orbital bone suffered in the first game of the 2014 AIHL season.
Having to deal with a 12 hour flight delay on a Monday morning in Melbourne after two losses in Canberra rubs salt into the wound a little bit.
Hockey players are built tough though and one learns to ride the bumps and checks along the way.
Like many of his AIHL brethren, Bremner initially plied his hockey trade on wheels instead of blades, converting only to the frozen surface four years ago. “I actually played inline hockey since I was about 8 or 9 years old, and picked up ice hockey 4 years ago. It’s definitely been tough. I had quite a bit of success with inline and trying to adapt to a new game and perform in the AIHL has been a big adjustment,” said Bremner.
Bremner is quite humble about his time so far with the Thunder, preferring to focus on team performance rather than individual accolades. “I can’t say I’ve scored any big goals or anything like that in the AIHL, but making finals last season after all the adversity we had through the year was pretty fun.”
Thunder are the newest team in the league historically, but that perception differs within the club itself. Bremner had this to say about the club’s evolution, the work of Stan Scott and new coach Dylan Forsyth, and why he dons the Thunder colours at the weekend.
“For me, I love playing for the city I grew up in with some of my closest friends. We have a tight locker room in Perth, guys all get along and we have a talented core of locals. We’re improving, and I think we’re on track for a championship soon,” said Bremner. “We’ve obviously had a steep learning curve and managed some success early on, but we don’t see ourselves as the new team anymore. We’re in our third year now, and missing the finals would be considered a step backwards. Stan Scott has been great for the organisation; the work he’s put in as a coach and manager is unreal. Those are two big jobs and splitting them has allowed us to bring in Dylan, a great coach with North American experience, while maintaining Stan’s services as manager.”
And his assessment of the current state of AIHL union?
“As far as I can see the league is getting bigger and better each year. Parity is great for the competition and it makes our product exciting and marketable. The Foxtel deal is awesome. Fans are into it, a lot of rinks are packed and loud – people are buying tickets and that’s what teams need,” said Bremner, “In terms of areas for improvement, I think players and fans get really frustrated with officiating throughout the league. Particularly the import players don’t understand a lot of calls that get made. It might be controversial, but it’s an issue a lot of people feel strongly about.”
With the recent discussion on fighting in the AIHL, Bremner gave his own personal playing perspective.
“Fighting is a tough issue. I’m for it. We’re not a pro league, but hockey is a game where you can target star players and even take them out within the rules of the game. I think that’s where it has it’s place,” said Bremner. “Not many guys enjoy fighting, so it’s a deterrent for dirty play and makes people accountable for their actions, because a lot of stuff goes on that refs don’t see. As for the fans and the image of the league, it’s only a small element of a great game, and I think it might attract more people than it repels.”
As with every other local player in the AIHL enjoying semi-professional status though, there’s also real life to deal with.
“I’m pretty busy, I’m working a couple of different jobs and I’m in the midst of an application to get into medical school next year. I’m a medical technician at a couple of private hospitals in Perth, I run respiratory tests on patients for physicians and also work on the wards a couple of times a week,” said Bremner.
Even though his Detroit Red Wings are no longer contesting for Lord Stanley’s Cup this season, Bremner’s attention is also focused on the NHL. “The Chicago Blackhawks are looking strong but it’d be good to see the Rangers or Canadiens take it out, just to see something new,” said Bremner.
Nothing wrong with tradition. #Hawksbacktoback.