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Delayne Brian retires from CWHL

The Clarkson Cup MVP and champion announced her retirement via Twitter on Wednesday.

Delayne Brian of the Calgary Inferno.
Al Saniuk

Delayne Brian has retired after five seasons with the Calgary Inferno.

The goaltender from Winnipeg, Man., was a cornerstone in the crease for the Calgary franchise during her career. Brian was selected with the No. 6 pick in the 2013 CWHL Draft after playing four seasons in the NCAA — three for the Wayne State Warriors and a final year with the Robert Morris Colonials.

Brian joined Calgary and immediately began garnering attention and accolades. As a rookie, she posted the first winning season for an Inferno goaltender with an 8-5-0-1 record. Her 2.57 GAA was a franchise record, and she led the team to several milestones throughout the season. Brian’s breakout performance culminated in her first career shutout in the final game of the season against the then-Brampton Thunder. Thanks to the rookie sensation, Calgary earned their first playoff appearance in club history, and Brian was awarded Goaltender of the Year by the CWHL in recognition of her historic run between the pipes. Not bad for one’s first year in the league, eh?

A strong debut strengthened Brian’s resolve. She was determined not to be a flash in the pan for the Inferno. Her sophomore season in the CWHL cemented her status as an elite goaltender in the league. Brian improved upon her rookie year in basically every major category, and her 11 wins led the league. She was named an All-Star and led Calgary to the second seed in the regular season standings, just two points behind the eventual Clarkson Cup champion Boston Blades.

Delayne Brian of the Calgary Inferno turns a shot away with her stick.
Al Saniuk

Despite her spectacular regular season performances, Brian and the Inferno remained winless in their two trips to the playoffs. That would change the following year with the standout season of her CWHL career. Although Brian’s 2015-16 regular season statistics were not as impressive as the previous year, she rose to the occasion in the playoffs. Calgary swept the Brampton Thunder in the best-of-three series with 4-2 and 4-3 wins. Brian stopped 17 of 19 and 30 of 33 shots, respectively, in those semifinal games before facing off against Montreal in the final. The Inferno goalie dominated Les Canadiennes, racking up 38 saves on 41 shots in an 8-3 win. Brian hoisted her first and only Clarkson Cup, doing so as the Clarkson Cup MVP.

Brian’s final two seasons saw a decreased workload due to injury and competition in the crease. In 2016-17, Geneviève Lacasse joined Calgary from Boston and a rookie Emerance Maschmeyer burst onto the CWHL scene. The goaltending platoon and her own injury limited Brian to just seven games, but she went undefeated and posted the best numbers of her career that season (1.84 GAA).

The 2017-18 season saw rookie Lindsey Post emerge as a capable goaltender during Brian’s recovery. The veteran returned halfway through the season for one more shot at the Clarkson Cup. In the semifinals against Kunlun Red Star, she was one half of the greatest goaltending duel in the history of the Clarkson Cup playoffs. Brian faced off against Finnish Olympian Noora Räty, who backstopped Kunlun to the playoffs with one of the greatest goalie campaigns in CWHL history, in a game that will never be forgotten by those who watched it.

Both goalies put in performances of a lifetime in a decisive game three that entered the third overtime with the score still 0-0. Finally, nearing the end of the sixth period of the game, Kunlun’s Alex Carpenter finished off a quick passing play and beat Brian to end it. Red Star players flooded the ice in celebration as the Inferno skated over to Brian and embraced their heroic goalie. It was the 110th shot of the game — the only goal. It seems ill-fitting that the last shot in the final, and perhaps most spectacular, game of Brian’s CWHL career went past her for a gamewinning goal. However, storybook careers don’t always have storybook endings.

Delayne Brian has a lot to be proud of as she hangs up her skates. She was the spark for the Calgary Inferno. The club’s success in recent years started with her in the blue paint. Brian’s individual awards are numerous and impressive, but her legacy will be defined by the ultimate team accomplishment of winning the Clarkson Cup.

Thank you for a wonderful career, Delayne Brian.

Thousands of hockey fans everywhere echo the sentiment.