CANTON — At some point during the 2015-16 hockey season, SUNY Canton women’s coach Dave LaBaff drove to Ottawa to scout a youth hockey tournament, primarily to focus on a goalie prospect.
The goalie he came to see played on a team that was peppering its opponent’s goalie, Brooke Susac, with shots. LaBaff suddenly found himself drawn to Susac instead of the goalie he had come to watch.
“It was a brutal game for (Susac),” LaBaff said. “She must have made 60 saves in the game and I walked away saying ‘We need to have that goalie!’ We had her on campus in a week and two weeks later she committed.”
About half a year later it was time for Susac to make her collegiate debut for the Kangaroos. She was about to head onto the ice with the rest of her team for warmups when her skate broke. She missed the entire warmup session, got her skate fixed and went on to stop 28 of 29 shots as SUNY Canton defeated Western New England 5-1.
“It was pretty amazing,” LaBaff said. “She’s definitely not your typical goalie. She is very calm. She’s one of our team leaders. She’ll speak up when she has to. She really keeps us calm during those moments where some people are panicking.”
Entering her senior season, Susac, a native of Bowmanville, Ontario, has played in 76 games for the Kangaroos with a .921 save percentage, a 2.12 goals-against average and 11 career shutouts.
During the three seasons she’s been with the program the Kangaroos have gone a combined 34-36-10. The three seasons before she arrived on campus the squad went a combined 17-54-5.
“I don’t think we are able to be at the level we are at, or continue to improve, without Brooke back there just really setting the ground work for everything,” LaBaff said. “We made it to the second round of the (Colonial Conference) playoffs because of her. She gives us a chance to win every single night. There’s just no way around that. For recruiting, last year, it was about how to get people around to score goals to make sure we help her. There’s a big sense of calmness on the team with Brooke in the net. She can go out there and make 50 saves, or she can make 20 saves and make it look easy.”
Susac came to SUNY Canton to play hockey, but also because she wanted to study nursing.
“(Canton) being a smaller area, to me that spoke out to me,” Susac said. “I’m not one for a big hustle/bustle, having to live downtown. I like a smaller community where you get to know everybody and feel a little more at home. They have a pretty good nursing program here and a lot of other schools, when you are a student-athlete, will not let you study nursing.”
Just as she has excelled on the ice, Susac also has excelled away from it. She is already a licensed nurse and players on the team often come to her with questions when they are not feeling well. She also came in handy when LaBaff broke his nose.
“Once I graduate I can jump right into (nursing) either in Canada or the United States,” Susac said. “I’ve always been really interested in science and math. I was struggling to find a career that really fit everything about myself. As much as I love science and math, I didn’t want to spend my life sitting in a laboratory. That didn’t appeal to me. I found that the medical field balanced everything together. I was able to be around people, see something different every day, be on my feet while still doing medicine and the science aspect to it.”
For LaBaff, the only bad thing about Susac is he can play her for only four years and after this season ends she will be gone.
“She has obliterated every (school goalie) record there was and she is going to make it tough on anyone who comes in to attain those records,” LaBaff said. “That’s a good thing she is really proud of.”
PREVIEW: DIVISION III COLLEGE HOCKEY
SUNY Canton Kangaroos
Coach: Alex Boak (4th year, 28-41-6).
2018-19 record: 14-9-2 overall.
Roster: Jarrod Croswell (Fr. D), Roger Powers (So. D), Corson Green (So. D), Zach Ahola (So. F), William Ma (So. F), Kyler Matthews (So. D), Bailey Conklin (So. F), David Hopfer (Sr. D), Adam Petric (So. F), Matt Needleman (So. F), Max Routledge (So. F), Reily McIntosh (Jr. F), Noah Robinson (Fr. F), Jake Mayette (Jr. F), Sean Shepard (So. D), Jesse Farabee (Jr. F), Sean David (So. F), Matt Passaretti (Fr. D), Connor Tuttle (So. D), Anthony Filoso (Jr. F), Brendan McCormick (Fr. F), Tyson Bruce (Sr. F), Austin Washkurak (Sr. G), Michael Cerasuolo (Sr. G), Brandon McCorriston (Fr. G), Luke Hincenbergs (Sr. D), AJ D’Orazio (Jr. F), Stuart Fierheller (Sr. D), Matthew Headland (Fr. F), Brett Bannister (Fr. F).
SUNY Potsdam Bears
Coach: Chris Bernard (11th year, 88-143-23, 14th overall, 105-195-27).
2018-19 records: 8-16-1 overall (4-11-1 SUNYAC).
Roster: Ethan Clark (So. D), Bryce Ferrell (Sr. F), Tom Terranova (So. F), Ryan Lieth (Fr. D), Jon Venter (Jr. D), Devin Panzeca (So. F), Brett Horn (Jr. F), Jacob Juron (Jr. F), Justin Geary (So. D), Jack Bloem (So. F), Ben Thompson (So. F), Vinny Guimond (Sr. F), Nick Alfieri (Fr. F), Connor Cruickshank (Fr. D), Sean Winikates (Sr. D), Michael McArthur (So. F), Nate Zweig (Sr. F), Joseph Richardson (Jr. D), Paul Michura (Jr. F), Chris Gratton (So. D), Tyler Young (Sr. F), Rob Clerc (So. F), Michael Paglucca (So. G), Connor Green (Fr. G), Ryan Glander (So. G), Justin Vernace (Fr. F), Joey Sollazzo (Jr. F).
SUNY Canton Kangaroos
Coach: Dave LaBaff (6th year, 43-76-12).
2018-19 records: 10-11-5 overall (5-5-2 Colonial Conference)
Roster: Emily Matthew (Fr. F), Maggie Convery (So. F), Micayla Macintyre (Jr. D), Debi Bartosova (So. F), Meaghan Best (Fr. F), Jayde Dukette (So. F), Lily Cullen (So. F), Alyssa Suzuki (Jr. D), Verity Lewis (Fr. D), Alyssa Hein (Jr. D), Hannah Desrochers (Fr. F), Caeley Smith (Fr. D), Kayla Lauzon (So. G), Ashley Gillies (Jr. D/F), Kelly Leathem (So. D), Alexa Parigi (Jr. F), Sirena Alvarez (Fr. G), Brooke Susac (Sr. G), Natasha Simioni (Fr. F), Breanna Bedborough (Jr. F), Sarah Kosnaskie (So. F).
SUNY Potsdam Bears
Coach: Jay Green (12th year, 108-147-23, 13th overall, 114-161-24).
2018-19 records: 9-14-3 overall (6-8-2 NEWHL).
Roster: Ellie Cleary (So. F), Emily Burke (Jr. D), Miranda Kolb (Sr. F), Natalie Wasielewski (Jr. F), Kaylee Merrill (Fr. F), Alex Quinn (Fr. F), Emily DellaNeve (Fr. F), Stephanie Dunlap (So. F), Alexis Clark (Jr. F), Lucy Condon (Sr. F), Makenzie Martin (Fr. D), Delphine Leonard (Sr. D), Keira Thacker (Jr. D), Shelbi Thacker (Sr. D), Allie Banas (Jr. F), Abigail Lyon (So. D), Iakonhnhiio Cook (Fr. D), Kayla McCabe (Sr. G), Alexa Pfeiffer (Sr. G).