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Vacation’s over: Brette Pettet starts life in college hockey at Wisconsin-Madison

Only a month after finishing up at Shattuck-St. Mary's, the Kentville native is already learning the NCAA ropes.
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Brette Pettet has checked in to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for summer courses and off-season workouts to prepare for her rookie season in the NCAA this fall. (IAN FAIRCLOUGH / Local Xpress)

One word best describes Brette Pettet's summer. Short.

Kentville's Pettet left Shattuck-St. Mary's, where she won her fourth U.S. prep school girls' hockey title in five seasons, and got to spend some time with friends and family in the Annapolis Valley.

But that respite has already ended. She's checked in to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for summer courses and off-season workouts to prepare for her rookie season in the NCAA this fall.

Pettet, an 18-year-old forward, had her first chance with a Canadian national team in 2016-17, winning silver at the world under-18 tournament in the Czech Republic.

She'll spend eight weeks in Wisconsin getting to know most of her Badgers teammates. Then she'll be back home for a few weeks in August before school and hockey get into full swing.

She said it was odd to be home in Nova Scotia knowing she wouldn't be returning to Shattuck, located in Faribault, Minn. She has followed the same path as Nova Scotia hockey player Blayre Turnbull, who went from Shattuck to Wisconsin.

Sidney and Taylor Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and Alexis Crossley are among other notable Nova Scotia players to play at Shattuck.

Pettet said she was anxious to get to Wisconsin and get things started.

"I think it's a really good opportunity for incoming freshmen to get to know the campus better," she said in an interview while in Nova Scotia. "You can settle in and figure everything out before the real school year starts.

"When the school year starts, it starts right away and you have to be ready to juggle school and athletics. I'm definitely really excited and to see a lot of my teammates this summer will be fun as well."

She won't be going in cold. There are three players on the team who went to Shattuck and she played on the same team with Alexis Mauermann, who was a freshman with the Badgers last year.

"I know them, so that's very lucky for me," Pettet said. "I'll be a little more comfortable."

On top of that, she and Shattuck teammate Natalie Buchbinder are both Wisconsin recruits this year. "We're going to be roommates this summer, so I'm looking forward to that for sure."

Nerves? Sure. It's a big step.

"Obviously, I'm very nervous for it. It's my first year in college, so that's something in itself. Managing hockey and academics will be a little challenging at the start, I think. But I'm glad I kind of lived on my own for five years so hopefully that will help me."

As for Wisconsin, it was an easy pick for Pettet, who will study sciences on her way toward engineering.

"It was the first school I visited, actually. Right away I just liked the feel and the atmosphere of the campus. It's a really friendly area in the Midwest. And they've always been known for being in the top three for hockey. They always have a very good team, which is pretty exciting to know."

She has spoken to Stellarton's Turnbull about her journey through Shattuck and Wisconsin. Turnbull is now pushing for a spot on Canada's team for the Olympics in 2018.

This was Pettet's best year, despite having to bounce back from knee surgery to make it happen.

She had a couple of game-winning goals for Canada at the under-18 worlds, which ended in a 3-1 loss to the Americans in the final in January.

She also scored in the gold-medal game, a 3-1 win over Chicago Mission, for the USA Hockey Girls Tier I under-19 national championship played in Michigan in April.

"It's always been a dream of mine since I was little to play for Team Canada, so that was a really great opportunity and experience for me," she said. "Even though we didn't win, I wouldn't take it back for a second.

"And then going back to Shattuck and working with the girls I've known for years now and winning a national championship in my last year was really rewarding and satisfying."

Her varsity career will begin with an exhibition game against South Korea on Sept. 16.


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