colangelo reid feature

Taking a timeout as teammates

Briana Colangelo and Emily Reid have been teammates for 11 years, and recently committed to four more, but the National Women’s Under-18 Championship had made them unfamiliar foes

Wendy Graves
November 5, 2015

Briana Colangelo and Emily Reid were able to pick each other out pretty early.

Flashback to the 2005-06 season and the tryouts for the Whitby Wolves Novice team: only 15 girls (according to Reid) or 17 girls (if you ask Colangelo) came out. Either way, everyone made the team.

They lost every game that year.

Then they went to provincials.

“We were total underdogs,” says Reid. “They wanted us to be B and we won A, and we ended up winning it all. That’s kind of where it all started – when I met Bri and everyone. We just kind of grew up together. It’s pretty cool.”

Eleven years – and six provincial championships – later, Colangelo and Reid find themselves in unfamiliar waters. This week, at the 2015 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, they will be on opposing benches for the first time. Colangelo is a forward with Ontario Red; Reid is a defenceman with Ontario Blue.

“It’s definitely weird,” says Reid. “But it’ll be fun, I think.”

Adding confusion to the chaos, at least on Reid’s end, is that Wolves head coach Keven Schram is an assistant with Ontario Red. “He’s coached me literally my entire life so it’s kind of funny to see him on the other side.”

In addition to winning provincials the first time out, in their years together with the Wolves, Colangelo and Reid won Novice gold again the next season (ironically, with an undefeated season) and then strung together a four-year run of championships, from 2010 until 2013, two years in Peewee and two in Bantam.

Yet both point to a tournament game one Bantam year as their most memorable moment. In the semifinals against the Waterloo Ravens, the team trailed 5-0 (Reid) or maybe 5-1 (Colangelo) only to prevail 6-5 in overtime.

This success has been possible because each knows what they have in the other as a teammate.

“Emily is good defensively,” says Colangelo. “She’s good in her own end. She’s patient with the puck. She’s really smart, too.”

“[Briana’s] a great heads-up player,” says Reid. “She’s really smart with the puck, always moving, always open. She’s one of those girls you can always feed, you can always find on the ice.”

Soon they could also have an even greater appreciation for what opponents have had to contend with for years.

Reid can usually nod and smile at the Wolves’ captain’s quick thinking – “She’s always making plays you don’t expect” – but will that soon change to a solemn shake of the head?

Colangelo knows her alternate captain can be counted on as the lone player back – “Just how she takes the body, she’s really strong defensively” – but how will she feel if that’s the last player she has to get by?

So far the opportunities to answer these questions have only been posed in practice. Will the mindset be different when the stakes are higher?

“It’s a new team,” says Reid. “When we’re off the ice it’s a different story, but when we’re on there, we have to forget about it.”

For years both have actively given back to the game. Reid is starting her third season as a referee with the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association. “You get a different view on the game,” she says. “I definitely have a lot of respect for the refs in seeing what they do. You get a new respect for how difficult it is.”

Colangelo’s mom, Toni, was once a competitive hockey player herself, skating alongside Vicky Sunohara and even once earning an invitation to try out for the national team. Colangelo long ago had her chance to line up with her mom’s former teammate.

“That’s why I’m number 61,” says Colangelo, smiling and pointing to her jersey sleeve. “I’ve been going to her camps since I was six. Now I’m helping instruct every summer.”

Next year both players take the next step in their own high-level hockey careers. They’ve both committed to the University of Connecticut.

“It wasn’t planned,” says Reid. They chatted and quickly discovered they were once again on the same page when it came to finding that perfect hockey fit. “We actually did the call together and committed together.”

That, though, is still 10 months away. For now there’s a national championship to play for.

The schedule has done the duo a small favour: Ontario Red and Ontario Blue are in different groups. Or maybe it’s simply prolonged the meeting that seemingly couldn’t come, with a date that can only be set with a medal on the line.

Eleven seasons together; six provincial championships shared.

This week, only one can possibly win gold.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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