NL Soccer Association award winners announced
The Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association (NLSA) has recognized outstanding players, coaches and volunteers for 2016.
Aries Benuen may have only started playing ice hockey three years ago, but the 10-year-old boy from Sheshatshiu has already gained some national attention as an exceptional young defenseman.
Beginning in May this year, and continuing on over the summer, Aries participated in four tournaments throughout Canada, an experience he and his devoted grandfather, Sebastian Benuen, won't soon forget.
Aries, who plays in the Lake Melville Minor Hockey Association, is like a lot of other young hockey players his age; he lives and dreams hockey. His favourite team is the Washington Capitals and his favourite player is Alex Ovechkin.
He hopes to one play for the Capitals himself.
Everyday Aries does something hockey related. If he can t play the game on the ice, he can often be found practicing his shot at a net behind his house.
When asked what his favourite part was about travelling throughout Canada this summer, his answer was simple: playing hockey.
It all began a few months ago when Sebastian got a midnight phone call while he was trying to sleep.
The call was from Donald Lucas of the Flamme Olympique Hockey organiz ation, based out of Quebec.
Lucas had heard good things about Aries play through his connections in Sheshatshiu, and informed Sebastian that he wanted Aries to play with the Flamme Olympique in an upcoming tournament.
"I said oh my God, when is this happening,"
recalled Sebastian. "I was so excited, I couldn't even sleep.
Aries first tournament was in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, and Sebastian wanted to make sure h is grandson knew what a big deal it was to be playing hockey at the AAA level.
"I was really excited," said Sebastian. "It was his first time playing outside of Labrador. I told him this was a really good opportunity."
During that first tournament, Aries was able to get six games of experience under his belt. It took the young defenseman a little bit of time to adjust, but he eventually p roved himself to be a valuable asset to the team.
During the first game, he didn't know the other kids, and he was a bit nervous, said Sebastian.
But he played really good the next few games.
Donald Lucas was also impressed by what he saw out of Aries.
He s a good skater, good puck handler, has good vision of play, good leadership, and he listens very well when coaches explains some techniques, said Lucas.
After the tournament in Trois-Rivieres, Aries played in three more cities for t ournaments; Montreal, Ottawa, and Niagara Falls.
The tournament in Niagara Falls was a particular highlight for both Aries and Sebastian. It was a large hockey tournament, with teams from all over North America.
Aries team made it all the way to the finals, and Aries himself got a lot of ice team throughout the tournament.
"What amazed me, Aries is a defenseman, and he played both power play and penalty kill," said Sebastian. "It really impressed me; Aries only started three years ago, when he was seven years old."
Aries hockey travels will be continuing this season. The young player recent ly travelled out to Labrador City and cracked the roster for the Labrador Timberwolves, a team that wil l be travelling outside in 2017.
"We don't mind the travel, especially when it comes to hockey," said Sebastian. "I love hockey."
Aries realizes that he wouldn't have made it to this level in hockey, if it wasn't for the support of his grandfather.
"He drives me to the rink every day and he always tells me to skate hard."