Your TV Halton Host Jessica Ostryhon interviews Jacob Bramwell of the Burlington Cougars at Central Arena in Burlington during the 2023 OJHL playoffs. Bramwell was named team captain in June. (Spencer Smye / OJHL Images)
Ontario Junior Hockey League resident writer Ron Valentine is profiling the 2023-24 team captains acrossThe OJ.
BY RON VALENTINE
The Burlington Cougars management team were in no doubt about naming their new captain for the 2023-24 campaign to succeed Jack Richard who is now a Niagara Purple Eagle.
On June 7 the announcement was made that blueliner Jacob Bramwell, in his third and final OJHL season, would wear the “C” on his sweater. In two seasons as a Cougar, Jacob registered 46 regular season and playoff points.
The Cougars open their season tonight at home to the Oakville Blades. Game time is 7:30 at Central Arena.
Jacob is the youngest of three brothers to play in the OJHL.
Connor, now 25, suited up for the Hamilton Red Wings and the GOJHL’s Caledonia Corvairs before ending his junior career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He spent four seasons with the Guelph University Gryphons and will begin this season behind the bench of the Hamilton Kilty Bees this month.
Zach, 24, was top scorer and rookie of the year for the GOJHL’s Ancaster Avalanche before moving to the Oakville Blades of the OJ. He skated at NCAA Division I Cornell University for four years.
All three Bramwells are products of the Hamilton Huskies’ system. Jacob played his final season of minor hockey with the Hamilton Bulldogs U18 AAA club.
Head Coach/General Manager Mark Jooris is effusive in his praise for Jacob.
“He is a true leader and puts the team ahead of his personal accomplishments. He is the type of player that drags his teammates into the fight. We expect him to have a big season for us.”
Associate Coach Kirby Tokarski added: “Jacob is going to be very important for us this year as we will have a lot of new faces. He will be the glue for our dressing room.”
Jacob on being named captain.
“I wore the ‘C’ when I was with the Hamilton Huskies and I’m really looking forward to my new role with the Cougars. David Paluch was the captain when I started in the 2021-22 season and I learned a lot from him, especially about the way we should treat the rookies on the team. He always made sure we were involved and I intend to do the same. Last year, Jack Richard led us with his own unique style and his 53-goal season and now I have to be myself as well as incorporating what I learned from them. I have to have confidence in the guys as well as setting an example on and off the ice.
What should we look for on the ice from Jacob?
“I like to think of myself as a two-way player who is smart with the puck. I have the tools in the bag to perform well on defence or offense. I want to continue to be a tough player to play against. It’s important to finish your checks and create some space so other players can shine. The mental part of the game is very important to me. You have to be in the right frame of mind when the puck is dropped. I will continue to stick up for myself and my teammates. I’m not going to be a big point scorer but I’m looking forward to spending time on the powerplay and just getting better overall.”
A look back, and forward.
“Overall, we had a good season in 2022-23. We finished a strong third in the West and swept two playoff rounds before falling short against Collingwood. I had some injury problems and I’m still working on getting 100-percent healthy for the start of the season. Every year the expectation is to strive to be the best we can and we know that the coaching staff will always be there for us. We may not have a 50-goal scorer on the team this time around but there are players with the potential for 20 or 30, or, who knows even 40 goals but overall hard work will be the key for us. To be one step better than last season we have to be sure we are always together as a group and buy into what Mark and Kirby set out for us. Personally, I want to progress to NCAA Division 1 or 3 in the U.S. or U SPORTS in Canada. That will work itself out. I have had no talks with specific schools yet but being back in Buffalo the Governors’ Showcase will be important for me, though it’s really just two games where we want to come up with four points.”
When the captain is not playing hockey.
“I worked at my brother Connor’s hockey school. I trained three or four times a week and in my spare time I like to golf but my real love is tennis. It’s a game where I can stay in my zone and have fun and stay fit.”
Look for Jacob to make a big impact with the Cougars this season, not necessarily with big numbers but with his leadership and communications skills.
Follow Ron Valentine on X @ronandlynda