The greatest 12 months in hockey for Newfoundland

Dave Salter
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A Stanley Cup and an Allan Cup

It will be remembered as the greatest 12 months in the history of hockey in Southeastern Newfoundland, particularly Clarenville and Bonavista.

In 2011, the Clarenville Caribous became only the second Newfoundland team to capture the Allan Cup national senior hockey championship and Bonavista’s favourite son, Michael Ryder joined Dan Cleary as the only Newfoundlanders to have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup. The region will be hard-pressed to match that one-two punch in the future.

Clarenville’s love affair with the re-born Caribous has been well documented in these pages and their future seems secure with a spiffy new arena. And while Caribou skaters have become local stars in their own rights, many players from this region have made names for themselves on the mainland.

A review of local players skating on mainland teams must start with the roller-coaster year of Michael Ryder.  

The 31-year-old right-winger suffered through a horrible 2010 with the Boston Bruins that led to rampant rumours of a demotion to the American Hockey League or a buyout of his contract. Ryder continued to struggle as the calendar turned to 2011 and many pundits figured he might be dealt at the NHL trade deadline in February if the Bruins could find any takers for his diminished production and bloated contract. History shows Ryder remained with the black and gold, rediscovered his scoring touch in the playoffs and played a key role in Boston’s first Stanley Cup championship since 1972. Ryder’s resurgence could not have come at a better time. No sooner had he lifted Lord Stanley’s cup above his head, he achieved free agent status. Ryder was now a ‘winner’ and proved during the postseason he still had gas left in the tank. That was enough to impress the Dallas Stars who inked the streaky sniper to a two-year $7 million contract on Canada Day.

If that wasn’t enough to put the town of Bonavista in hockey heaven, the Stars also signed fellow Bonavista NHLer Adam Pardy to a two-year deal (worth $4 million).  A stay-at-home defenceman, Pardy had spent the previous three seasons with the Calgary Flames.

Life in the southwest seems to agree with Ryder as he is on pace for 51 points, which would be his best campaign in three seasons. As of press time, Ryder was tied for the team lead in goals with 11 and was fourth in points with 20 in 32 games. Ryder has spent much of the season on a line with premier playmaker Mike Ribeiro, a former teammate with the Montreal Canadiens.

Things have not gone as swimmingly for the six-foot-four Pardy. The 27-year-old has been a regular in the press box and has seemingly fallen down the team’s depth chart. Noted for his defensive awareness, Pardy is tied with Alex Gologoski with a team-worst plus-minus rating of minus-5.  Pardy has managed one assist in 13 games.

Yet another Bonavista product played pro in 2011. Twenty-five-year old Andrew Sweetland netted 21 goals in only 38 games with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL last season, before averaging a point every other game (four goals, seven points) in 14 games with the AHL’s Binghamton Senators -- the latter the top affiliate of the Ottawa Senators.

However, the 6-2, 204-pound forward suffered a concussion playing for Binghamton with three weeks left in the 2010-11 season and retired from the professional ranks.  As many readers know, Sweetland has returned home and now stars with the Caribous in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League.

Another Pardy – Jon – of Clarenville almost turned pro in 2011. The hulking defenceman, known for his fighting prowess, attended the training camp of the Huntsville (Alabama) Havoc of the Southern Professional Hockey League but like Sweetland, decided to return home to play for the Caribous. Pardy’s decision was hastened by a reoccurring shoulder injury. According to dropyourgloves.com the 21-year-old did manage to squeeze in a couple of fights in exhibition play – a win and a loss, according to the website.

Pardy spent the previous three seasons with the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Amherst Ramblers were he rang up 261 penalty minutes in 86 games.

While in Amherst, Pardy skated alongside Bonavista centreman Brandon Street. The 20-year-old is off to great start this season with the Ramblers, leading the club in scoring with 21 goals and 40 points in 30 games, as of press time. Street’s numbers are good enough for 10th place in team scoring.

Clarenville native Ryan Power made his junior debut with the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Bridgewater Lumberjacks this fall but was promoted to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s (QMJHL) Moncton Wildcats on December 13th. In 17 games with the Lumberjacks the six-foot, 180-pound defensemen has six points (one goals, five assists) along with eight penalty minutes. Power, who was drafted by Moncton in the eighth round of the 2011 QMJHL Entry Draft, has yet to play a game for the Wildcats.

A local holdover with the Wildcats is grinding winger Scott Trask of Bonavista, in his third season with the club. Trask has four goals and seven points in 35 games and has created some buzz on twitter (@4thlinenewf) and on you tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzZo3s_vB3A&feature=channel_video_ <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzZo3s_vB3A&amp;feature=channel_video_> due to his ability to make fun of himself.

The only other local playing junior hockey on the mainland is compact Clarenville native Ken Neil of the Nepean Raiders of the Central Canada Hockey League.

The five-foot-eight, 150-pound left-winger is enjoying a standout season with 21 goals and 56 points in 37 games – good enough for third place in team scoring and fourth overall in the league. Neil’s exploits have not gone unnoticed. He was recently selected to play in the inaugural Central Canada Cup All Star Challenge, which took place in Smiths Falls, Ontario from Dec. 27 to 29. The games were played in front of scouts from NHL, NCAA and Canadian Hockey League clubs.

Finally, from the university ranks, Sarah Diamond of Bonavista is in her fifth year with the Mount Allison Mounties of the Atlantic Universities Women’s Hockey Conference. The five-foot-seven defenceman has managed one assist in 10 games.

Bonavista-Trinity Minor Hockey Association product Matt Bragg led the St. Francis Xavier X-Men to the Atlantic Universities Hockey Conference finals in March 2011 where they lost in the deciding game of the five-game series. Bragg now skates alongside his brother Mitch with the Caribous.

Michael Ryder brought the Stanley Cup to his hometown of Bonavista in August.

It will be remembered as the greatest 12 months in the history of hockey in Southeastern Newfoundland, particularly Clarenville and Bonavista.

In 2011, the Clarenville Caribous became only the second Newfoundland team to capture the Allan Cup national senior hockey championship and Bonavista’s favourite son, Michael Ryder joined Dan Cleary as the only Newfoundlanders to have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup. The region will be hard-pressed to match that one-two punch in the future.

Clarenville’s love affair with the re-born Caribous has been well documented in these pages and their future seems secure with a spiffy new arena. And while Caribou skaters have become local stars in their own rights, many players from this region have made names for themselves on the mainland.

A review of local players skating on mainland teams must start with the roller-coaster year of Michael Ryder.  

The 31-year-old right-winger suffered through a horrible 2010 with the Boston Bruins that led to rampant rumours of a demotion to the American Hockey League or a buyout of his contract. Ryder continued to struggle as the calendar turned to 2011 and many pundits figured he might be dealt at the NHL trade deadline in February if the Bruins could find any takers for his diminished production and bloated contract. History shows Ryder remained with the black and gold, rediscovered his scoring touch in the playoffs and played a key role in Boston’s first Stanley Cup championship since 1972. Ryder’s resurgence could not have come at a better time. No sooner had he lifted Lord Stanley’s cup above his head, he achieved free agent status. Ryder was now a ‘winner’ and proved during the postseason he still had gas left in the tank. That was enough to impress the Dallas Stars who inked the streaky sniper to a two-year $7 million contract on Canada Day.

If that wasn’t enough to put the town of Bonavista in hockey heaven, the Stars also signed fellow Bonavista NHLer Adam Pardy to a two-year deal (worth $4 million).  A stay-at-home defenceman, Pardy had spent the previous three seasons with the Calgary Flames.

Life in the southwest seems to agree with Ryder as he is on pace for 51 points, which would be his best campaign in three seasons. As of press time, Ryder was tied for the team lead in goals with 11 and was fourth in points with 20 in 32 games. Ryder has spent much of the season on a line with premier playmaker Mike Ribeiro, a former teammate with the Montreal Canadiens.

Things have not gone as swimmingly for the six-foot-four Pardy. The 27-year-old has been a regular in the press box and has seemingly fallen down the team’s depth chart. Noted for his defensive awareness, Pardy is tied with Alex Gologoski with a team-worst plus-minus rating of minus-5.  Pardy has managed one assist in 13 games.

Yet another Bonavista product played pro in 2011. Twenty-five-year old Andrew Sweetland netted 21 goals in only 38 games with the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL last season, before averaging a point every other game (four goals, seven points) in 14 games with the AHL’s Binghamton Senators -- the latter the top affiliate of the Ottawa Senators.

However, the 6-2, 204-pound forward suffered a concussion playing for Binghamton with three weeks left in the 2010-11 season and retired from the professional ranks.  As many readers know, Sweetland has returned home and now stars with the Caribous in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League.

Another Pardy – Jon – of Clarenville almost turned pro in 2011. The hulking defenceman, known for his fighting prowess, attended the training camp of the Huntsville (Alabama) Havoc of the Southern Professional Hockey League but like Sweetland, decided to return home to play for the Caribous. Pardy’s decision was hastened by a reoccurring shoulder injury. According to dropyourgloves.com the 21-year-old did manage to squeeze in a couple of fights in exhibition play – a win and a loss, according to the website.

Pardy spent the previous three seasons with the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Amherst Ramblers were he rang up 261 penalty minutes in 86 games.

While in Amherst, Pardy skated alongside Bonavista centreman Brandon Street. The 20-year-old is off to great start this season with the Ramblers, leading the club in scoring with 21 goals and 40 points in 30 games, as of press time. Street’s numbers are good enough for 10th place in team scoring.

Clarenville native Ryan Power made his junior debut with the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Bridgewater Lumberjacks this fall but was promoted to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s (QMJHL) Moncton Wildcats on December 13th. In 17 games with the Lumberjacks the six-foot, 180-pound defensemen has six points (one goals, five assists) along with eight penalty minutes. Power, who was drafted by Moncton in the eighth round of the 2011 QMJHL Entry Draft, has yet to play a game for the Wildcats.

A local holdover with the Wildcats is grinding winger Scott Trask of Bonavista, in his third season with the club. Trask has four goals and seven points in 35 games and has created some buzz on twitter (@4thlinenewf) and on you tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzZo3s_vB3A&feature=channel_video_ <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzZo3s_vB3A&amp;feature=channel_video_> due to his ability to make fun of himself.

The only other local playing junior hockey on the mainland is compact Clarenville native Ken Neil of the Nepean Raiders of the Central Canada Hockey League.

The five-foot-eight, 150-pound left-winger is enjoying a standout season with 21 goals and 56 points in 37 games – good enough for third place in team scoring and fourth overall in the league. Neil’s exploits have not gone unnoticed. He was recently selected to play in the inaugural Central Canada Cup All Star Challenge, which took place in Smiths Falls, Ontario from Dec. 27 to 29. The games were played in front of scouts from NHL, NCAA and Canadian Hockey League clubs.

Finally, from the university ranks, Sarah Diamond of Bonavista is in her fifth year with the Mount Allison Mounties of the Atlantic Universities Women’s Hockey Conference. The five-foot-seven defenceman has managed one assist in 10 games.

Bonavista-Trinity Minor Hockey Association product Matt Bragg led the St. Francis Xavier X-Men to the Atlantic Universities Hockey Conference finals in March 2011 where they lost in the deciding game of the five-game series. Bragg now skates alongside his brother Mitch with the Caribous.

 

Organizations: Boston Bruins, American Hockey League, NHL Dallas Stars Calgary Flames Maritime Junior Hockey League Montreal Canadiens Ottawa Senators Wildcats Newfoundland Senior Hockey League Southern Professional Hockey League Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Central Canada Hockey League NCAA and Canadian Hockey League Atlantic Universities Women Bonavista-Trinity Minor Hockey Association

Geographic location: Bonavista, Clarenville, Newfoundland Boston Binghamton Huntsville (Alabama) Amherst Brandon Street Moncton Smiths Falls Ontario

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