Ooks goalie looks to shut out traumatic brain injuries with toonie campaign
Puck-stopping campaign honours classmate’s late father
Every goaltender starts the hockey season hoping to make as many saves as possible. But for Brendan Jensen, it’s personal.
With every puck stopped this season, the 26-year-old NAIT men’s Ooks netminder will donate a toonie for traumatic brain injury research. The campaign honours the memory of his best friend’s late father but also supports anyone who’s suffered a serious blow to the head, including hockey players with concussions. About 1.5 million Canadians live with the effects of brain injuries.
“If I can help a friend or anybody in the hockey community or someone suffering from a traumatic brain injury, it would be a real special thing to do,” says Jensen, a fifth-year Business Administration - Entrepreneurship and Innovation student.
The campaign, called Jensen Saves, launched last week when the goalie shared photos of himself with his best friend – a recent BBA - Management grad – on social media. His friend’s father suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident last February and eventually succumbed to his injuries shortly after convocation. The family has requested anonymity, but gave the campaign their blessing, as did the team and Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.
“I feel good about my summer training.”
At $2 a save and facing 20 to 30 shots a game, Jensen hopes to donate $1,000 to $1,500 to the Brain Trauma Foundation. The final tally depends on how the season shapes up for the goalie named ACAC men’s player of the year in 2016/17.
“It definitely depends on how well I play and how healthy I am, but I feel good about my summer training,” he says.
Last year, the men’s Ooks were second in the ACAC for save percentage (0.922) and goals against (2.26) – due in no small part to Jensen’s 448 saves, 11 wins and sparkling 0.931 save percentage that helped lead them to the conference finals. He would have played even more had a knee injury and concussion not sidelined him for four weeks.
Now fully recovered, Jensen hopes to get into at least 20 of the team’s 28 games this season, which begins in mid-September. Barring injury, that’s a number head coach Tim Fragle (Management ’04) agrees is realistic.
Fragle says the team as a whole has supported charities but this is the first time he’s had a player take on an individual cause like this. Given Jensen’s maturity and mettle, he wasn’t surprised.
“Brendan, throughout his time at NAIT, has been self-driven on and off the ice.”
Fragle anticipates the entire team will raise their game to ensure their goalie succeeds with the toonie campaign.
“At the end of the day, it’s still a team game and they’ll have to do their part in front of him.”
Jensen hopes that friends, family and perhaps some corporate partners will chip in with toonies of their own, sponsoring single games, half the season or all his games. So far, his summer employer, the Derrick Golf and Winter Club, offered to volunteer a round of golf for auction while a fellow member of the goaltending fraternity, Augustana Vikings goalie Curtis Skip, pledged a toonie for every save he makes against the Ooks this year.
“I thought that was a nice gesture on his part,” Jensen says.
Anyone interested in supporting the campaign can message Jensen on his Twitter account.