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What’s in a name, for the Cornwall Lady Royals?
A bit of hockey history, with a whole new twist – and a goal to ensure that more young players from the Cornwall Women’s Hockey Association aspire to one day play for the elite U15 and U18 AA teams organisation.
Both of these clubs have rebranded this season, with the top Typhoons teams now bearing the name of the most famous franchise in Cornwall hockey history – the Royals, three-time National Championship winners in the Memorial Cup.
“I think it’s pretty neat,” said Sidnye Brownell, captain of the U18 Lady Royals, who was born long after the golden age of major junior hockey ended in Cornwall.
But his father Troy Brownell remembers the Royals vividly – the franchise moved from Cornwall to Newmarket in the early 1990s, just before he began his junior career which included the 1994-95 campaign with the London Knights.
These days, and for quite a few years, Troy Brownell is a hockey dad, coaching in the CGHA, but also working on a project – with several others in the association – which, a year later than expected initially, due to the pandemic, saw the Lady Royals represent Cornwall this season in the Ottawa District Women’s Hockey Association and in tournaments that can take them to towns hundreds of miles away.
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It’s about raising the profile of AA teams at the bantam (U15) and midget (U18) level and yes, the name matters.
While most CGHA teams are nicknamed Typhoons, as they have been for decades, it is believed that a rebranding of elite clubs can help keep homegrown talent local. For years, some of the best players in the CGHA, when they reached the top levels, went to play elsewhere in and around Ottawa, in bigger associations.
And in some of those big associations, elite teams have long since changed brands – the other night, the Ottawa Lady Sens, representing the Kanata Rangers Women’s Hockey Association, visited the Benson Centre. The Gloucester Stars have their top teams that skate under the Lady Grads brand, and the Ottawa Ice have teams that skate under the Lady 67s name.
“We hope that our younger players will want to play for the Lady Royals one day,” said Jason Woodside, assistant coach of the Cornwall U18 team.
This is a complete rebranding, involving the design of new logos, colors and uniforms, and involving several members of the ACTG executive, including Erin Seymour (equipment), Mike Turcotte (president) and Rod McLeod (player development).
With a handful of games remaining in the regular season, the Lady Royals U18 side are a mid-tier club; On Saturday, they got some solid goaltending from Alexandra Lindsay, but the Lady Sens eventually picked up a 3-0 victory.
Sidnye Brownell noted that the Lady Royals faced Ottawa to a draw earlier this season and it’s possible the clubs will meet in the playoffs.
“We will have to come out much stronger (at the start of the game) the next time we face them,” said the defender.
The Lady Royals will not be a dark horse of the playoffs, however. Earlier this season they had a very good run at the Two Nations Cup College Showcase in Brampton, Ont., qualifying for the playoff rounds with wins over some of Canada’s top U18 AA teams including the Sudbury Wolves, Barrie Sharks and Vancouver Island.