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Caribous hope to make up for last year’s Herder heartbreak

The Clarenville Caribous won their second straight Central-West senior hockey championship. Members of the winning team are, from left, first row: trainer Jacob Nolan, Ryan Desrosiers, Kevin Reid, Tyler Whiffen, Kenny Mahoney, Rodney Mahoney, Andrew Smith, Chris Prior, Cody McNamara, Jordan Kennedy; back row: trainer Scott Maidment, therapist Patty Russell, Mike Dyke, Chris Sparkes, Mason Reid, Dustin Russell, Chad Earle, general manager Ivan Hapgood, Justin Pender, Josh St. George, Keith Delaney, Ryan Delaney, assistant coach Andrew Hapgood, head coach Rebecca Russell and trainer Ralph Payne. Missing from photo are Jason Churchill, Brad Crann, Brandon Roach and president Derek MacPhee.
The Clarenville Caribous won their second straight Central-West senior hockey championship. Members of the winning team are, from left, first row: trainer Jacob Nolan, Ryan Desrosiers, Kevin Reid, Tyler Whiffen, Kenny Mahoney, Rodney Mahoney, Andrew Smith, Chris Prior, Cody McNamara, Jordan Kennedy; back row: trainer Scott Maidment, therapist Patty Russell, Mike Dyke, Chris Sparkes, Mason Reid, Dustin Russell, Chad Earle, general manager Ivan Hapgood, Justin Pender, Josh St. George, Keith Delaney, Ryan Delaney, assistant coach Andrew Hapgood, head coach Rebecca Russell and trainer Ralph Payne. Missing from photo are Jason Churchill, Brad Crann, Brandon Roach and president Derek MacPhee. - Submitted

After losing 2017 final on controversial finish, Clarenville players determined to win this year’s senior hockey championship

After last year’s controversial outcome in the Herder Memorial Trophy final, it’s not a stretch to suggest the Clarenville Caribous are a motivated and driven squad heading into this year’s provincial senior hockey championship.

“The way the Herder ended last year,” said Clarenville captain Dustin Russell, “has certainly provided us with more motivation to come back this season and finish the job.

“From Day 1,” he said, “we’ve been very determined and focused to get back to this point.”

The Clarenville Ford Caribous and St. John’s Green Sleeves Caps kick off the 2018 version of the Herder final 8 o’clock tonight at the Eastlink Events Centre in Clarenville. Game 2 of the best-of-seven final goes 1:30 Sunday afternoon in Clarenville.

The series shifts back to the Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay for Games 3, 4 and 5, if necessary, next weekend, beginning Friday, April 13.

If the series is extended beyond five games, Games 6 and 7 will be played back in Clarenville on April 21 and 22.

The Caribous were in last year’s much-talked about Herder, a series won by the C.B.N. CeeBee Stars in controversial fashion.

With just over four minutes remaining in the third period of the final game of a best-of-five final in Clarenville, the CeeBees’ Kenny King scored the go-ahead goal, which would later prove to be the winning tally.

Caribous goalie Jason Churchill, however, vehemently argued the puck slid under the side of the net, a claim later supported by NTV video footage.

The goal stood, and the CeeBees skated off with the Herder.

“When you take into consideration what happened last year, it definitely adds a different dynamic to this year’s series,” Russell admitted. “We have a few guys, myself included, who probably may or may not have been playing this year. What happened in that last game last year certainly was a motivating factor in us coming back this season.”

The Caribous won their second straight Central West Senior Hockey League championship last month, beating the Gander Flyers in five games in a best-of-seven championship final.

The Flyers were 9-6-1 this season, while the Caribous were 9-7.

On the east coast, it was a noteworthy 2017-18 season for the new East Coast Senior Hockey League.

The circuit included the Caps, Southern Shore Breakers, Northeast Eagles and C.B.S. Blues, formed after those four teams banded together to break free from the Avalon East league and establish a new league, minus the CeeBees.

The Caps, who beat the Breakers in a six-game league final, lost only three times in 18 starts during the regular season.

Despite their 15-3 campaign, the Caps are considered by many as underdogs against the Caribous.

“You’d have to, in my mind, put us as the underdog,” said Caps coach Wally Bray, before adding with a shot over the bow, “we’re an amateur league not paying any players. Most of the boys out there are getting paid.”

That’s one of the big reasons the Caps, Breakers, Eagles and Blues formed their own league, and essentially banned the CeeBees: the four teams all believed C.B.N. was paying players, which was against Avalon East bylaws.

No such rule exists with the Central West league, and many players are collecting dollars playing in Clarenville, Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor.

“When you’re playing a team that a lot of people would consider the underdog — though I don’t necessarily feel as such myself — those guys can play pretty loose,” Russell said.

“When you’re playing with nothing to lose, and everybody counts you out, anybody who plays sports knows that’s the point when you play your best. So we’re not taking them lightly by any stretch.”

The Caps were winless in three interlocking games with the Central West teams this season, losing 3-2 to Clarenville, and 4-2 to Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor. However, both the Flyers and Cataracts scored empty-net goals against St. John’s.

“So basically,” said Bray, “all three games were 3-2, and we travelled to each town short of players.

“So what does that tell you?”

The Caps were permitted to add three players for the Herder — last year, the CeeBees were allowed six pickups by Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador — and have added forwards Brandon Pye and Jeremy Nicholas from the Breakers, and defenceman Ryan Power from C.B.S.

Tyler Whiffen was between the pipes for Clarenville for much of the playoffs, and will probably get the start tonight. Kyle Downer will definitely be in goal for St. John’s.

robin.short@thetelegram.com

HERDER WINNERS

The Herder Memorial Trophy is emblematic of provincial senior hockey supremacy. Here are the Herder winners over the past years:

1935 - Corner Brook Royals

1936 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s

1937 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s

1938 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s

1939 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s

1940 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s

1941 - Bell Island

1942 - No competition

1943 - No competition

1944 - Bell Island

1945 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s

1946 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s

1947 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s

1948 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s

1949 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s

1950 - Buchans Miners

1951 - Buchans Miners

1952 - Buchans Miners

1953 - Grand Falls

1954 - Buchans Miners

1955 - Grand Falls Andcos

1956 - Grand Falls Andcos

1957 - Grand Falls Andcos

1958 - Grand Falls Andcos

1959 - Grand Falls Andcos

1960 - Conception Bay CeeBees

1961 - Conception Bay CeeBees

1962 - Corner Brook Royals

1963 - Buchans Miners

1964 - Corner Brook Royals

1965 - Conception Bay CeeBees

1966 - Corner Brook Royals

1967 - Conception Bay CeeBees

1968 - Corner Brook Royals

1969 - Gander Flyers

1970 - St. John’s Capitals

1971 - Grand Falls Cataracts

1972 - Grand Falls Cataracts

1973 - St. John’s Capitals

1974 - St. John’s Capitals

1975 - St. John’s Capitals

1976 - St. John’s Capitals

1977 - Corner Brook Royals

1978 - St. John’s Blue Caps

1979 - St. John’s Mike’s Shamrocks

1980 - Gander Flyers

1981 - Grand Falls Cataracts

1982 - Grand Falls Cataracts

1983 - Stephenville Jets

1984 - Stephenville Jets

1985 - Corner Brook Royals

1986 - Corner Brook Royals (Allan Cup champions)

1987 - St. John’s Capitals

1988 - Corner Brook Royals

1989 - Port aux Basques Mariners (Hardy Trophy champions)

1990 - St. John’s Capitals

1991 - No competition

1992 - Badger Bombers

1993 - Flatrock Flyers

1994 - La Scie Jets

1995 - Southern Shore Breakers

1996 - Southern Shore Breakers

1997 - Flatrock Flyers

1998 - Flatrock Flyers

1999 - Southern Shore Breakers

2000 - Southern Shore Breakers

2001 - Deer Lake Red Wings

2002 - Corner Brook Royals

2003 - Flatrock Flyers

2004 - Southern Shore Breakers

2005 - Deer Lake Red Wings

2006 - C.B.N. CeeBee Stars

2007 - C.B.N. CeeBee Stars

2008 - C.B.N. CeeBee Stars

2009 - Clarenville Caribous

2010 - Clarenville Caribous

(Allan Cup champions in 2011)

2011 - Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts

2012 - Clarenville Caribous

2013 - C.B.N. CeeBee Stars

2014 - Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts

2015 - Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts

2016 - Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts

2017 - C.B.N. CeeBee Stars

2018 - ????

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