CARDINAL - For the captain of the South Grenville Rangers, it is about a lot more than just playing the game.
It's about being part of a team. It's about tradition. It's about community.
And Brody Ranger knows plenty about the South Grenville community. The Johnstown resident has been involved in hockey since he was old enough to skate. Like hundreds of local kids, Brody got his first taste of the game with the Ron Baker (Old Coach) program.
"So when I started, I actually did the Ron Baker program. I think I was four (years-old) back then. I started there on Timbits, then played South Grenville Minor Hockey up until Atom, went up to Kings for a bit and came back down to play with my buddies...and ended up here," Ranger explained prior to Saturday night's National Capital Junior Hockey League game in Cardinal against the West Carleton Inferno.
Now in his third season with the Ranger team, his skill and dedication to the game have earned him the distinction of being named team captain. It is a responsibility that Ranger accepts with both honour and humility.
"It's obviously an awesome thing (being captain), but there's 20 other guys on the team. Without guys like Berry, Shipclark, Cooper Kingston - guys that come back and play because they are from here: all our guys, they want to win just as much as me. They want to do it for the team they're on. That's the biggest thing," Rangers says. "Everyone's job on this team is the same: get ready for the game and get ready to go. So I have no different job than anyone else...(chuckling) except maybe handling the jerseys once or twice."
For Ranger and his teammates, the job of being on the biggest team in town doesn't stop at the arena doors. Before taking to the ice for a pair of NCJLH games this past weekend, the South Grenville Rangers participated in the annual Light up the Night parade in Prescott. Community involvement is also a big piece of team philosophy.
"I think we were missing one guy last night (parade). And I think it's because he actually had an exam today. All the guys want to be at stuff like the parade. Last week, we were moving tables here in Johnstown and Prescott. We had everyone on the team jump up. They wanted to help. We had half a team there with a couple of texts. We love that kind of stuff.
From the captain's viewpoint, that commitment to being a team outside the arena is one of the reasons the team is so successful on the ice.
"It brings us closer. Not only doing stuff like the parade and moving tables - even just hanging out here. Everyone wants to get here early. Everyone wants to get here on time and it just brings our team really close," he concludes.
It is a bonding that transfers to all parts of the team.
"I think it's (the strong start to the season) because we're so close and because we have so many different skills and skilled guys on the team. It's our systems. Even our scheduling is done so guys can make it to practices. It's just an awesome place to play and guys want to be here."
Ranger is also quick to point out the value the coaching staff brings to the game.
"I grew up watching Ronnie (Harrison, South Grenville coach) and (Lucas) Stitt (General Manager). I was in the rink every Saturday night in Prescott when they played for the Flyers. I'd go watch every game they had. Its stuff like that. I wouldn't have been able to get through some of the last couple seasons here without our trainer Sammy (Rappin). He is a huge part of the team; he helps out all the guys with injuries."
For South Grenville GM Stitt, respect for his players is a two-way street.
"Brody Ranger is undoubtedly the leader of our hockey team. He is a go-to player in all aspects of the game and a leader on and off the ice. We are proud of not only what he brings to our hockey team but our community as well," Stitt stated.
Ranger set up two goals in South Grenville's 6-4 victory over West Carleton on Saturday night. His squad was less successful on Sunday as South Grenville fell 4-2 in Clarence Creek. Their record now stands at 12 wins and two losses; good enough for top spot in the league.
The North Dundas Rockets are next up, visiting Cardinal on Friday night. Puck drop at the Ingredion Centre is 8:10 p.m. The Rangers travel to Morrisburg on Saturday to face the Lions.