Teams from across Newfoundland and Labrador were in town to compete in the 2018 Hockey NL Pee Wee C Provincial Championships.
The three-day tournament brought teams from Harbour Grace, Gander, Clarenville, Corner Brook and Labrador West to the EJ Broomfield Arena, along with host team, the Lake Melville Xtreme for the right to be crowned the Pee Wee C Provincial Champions in what was the final tournament/competition to be scheduled here for the 2018 season.
Arnold Kelly, president of the Hockey NL Minor Council, thanked the Lake Melville Xtreme Minor Xtreme Hockey Association for hosting this year’s tournament.
“The dedication and work that is required to host such events sometimes gets lost in the excitement of the game. Your efforts have been truly appreciated by everyone.”
In between the hockey games, all of the teams were treated to a two hour dog sledding tour by local provider Scott Hudson. This provided a unique experience for the children, who may not have had or may not ever have this opportunity.
After the three days of round robin competition, the two top placed teams on the standings would play in the championship match. Harbour Grace Cee Bees had the honour of finishing in first place leading into the gold medal game with a record of five wins and no losses. The Lake Melville Xtreme just nudged out Labrador West by one point to finish in second place and earn the right to take on the Harbour Grace team in the final to decide the gold medal.
When the two teams had previously met in the round robin format, it was the Harbour Grace Cee Bees that came out in front with a 5-4 win over the host team, and with an undefeated record leading into the final, the Cee Bees were certainly the favourites going into the match.
In what was an almost full house at the EJ Broomfield Arena, there was plenty of noise and support for both teams, as the players were ready for the commencement of the game. The game was only 17 seconds in before the first goal was scored. Ryan Matthews of the Lake Melville Xtreme skated a breakaway from the centre of the ice and shot the puck past the goaltender, low to the left-hand side of the net to give the Lake Melville team a 1-0 lead.
In what was an evenly contested first period, it was slightly favoured by the strong defence of the Lake Melville team led by Olivia Mayo, Brady Warr and Caden Hillier.
The Harbour Grace Cee Bees had their first shot on goal with 4 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the first period which was neatly saved by Eric Webb, the Lake Melville goaltender.
Lake Melville Xtreme extended their advantage to take a 2-0 lead to the break with a second goal being scored by Ryan Matthews. William Jacque fed a pass across the front of the net which was swiftly pushed past the Harbour Grace goalie and into the back of the net.
After finishing the round robin undefeated, there was a sense of expectation that the Cee Bees would come back into the match at any time. Whatever sense there was around the arena didn’t filter down to the Lake Melville team as with the commencement of Period # 2, the game was only 33 seconds in when Ryan Matthews scored his third goal for the game, giving Lake Melville Xtreme a 3-0 lead.
The goals kept coming in the second period for the Lake Melville Xtreme, scoring another three goals in the period to William Jacque, Ryan Matthews, his fourth of the game, and Devon Walsh. This extended the lead out to a 6-0 score line.
In the final minute of play in the second period, the Harbour Grace team had three consecutive shots on goal in quick succession, all of which were saved by Eric Webb.
With only 15 minutes left to play, the final period was on. The Harbour Grace team looked to have found a second wind of energy and this resulted in them scoring two quick fire goals inside 60 seconds to bring the score line back to a 6-2 lead.
With just over eight minutes of the period remaining, Lake Melville player, Grace Norman was sent to the penalty box for illegal head contact. This sent Harbour Grace to the powerplay but halfway through the penalty, Lake Melville’s Aaron Porter scored shorthanded to push the lead out to 7-2.
This is how the score remained up until the last two minutes of the game, when Calen Budden scored an absolutely cracking goal with a slapshot from just inside the blueline to close out the scoring for a 7-3 victory to the Lake Melville Xtreme who earned the championship and gold medal.
Ryan Matthews, from Lake Melville, was the stand out player of the game with four goals and one assist.