In the more than eight-decade history of the Herder Memorial Trophy provincial senior hockey championship, there have been many different combinations of finalists, often repeated.
But this year, for the first time ever, it will be St. John’s taking on Clarenville for the Herder.
The St. John’s Green Sleeves Caps booked their berth by claiming the first-ever East Coast Senior Hockey League championship Sunday night, defeating the Southern Shore Breakers 5-4 in overtime at Twin Rinks to take the best-of-seven final 4-2.
The Central West Senior Hockey League champion Clarenville Ford Caribous will host the first two games of the best-of-seven Herder series at the Eastlink Events Centre Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Things move to Jack Byrne Arena Torbay — which will be the Herder home to the Caps — for Games 3, 4 and 5 (the latter if necessary) the weekend of April 13-15.
If the series goes to six or seven games, those contests will be played in Clarenville on April 21 and 22.
This will be a matchup between the last two Herder runners-up. The Caps were swept by the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts in 2016, while the Caribous fell to the Harbour Grace CeeBee Stars in a controversial 2017 series.
Those years, the Caps and CeeBees were representing the Avalon East Senior Hockey League, but a shakeup last summer resulted in four teams — including St. John’s — leaving the AESHL and forming the East Coast circuit, leaving the CeeBees without a game.
The Caps finished first in the inaugural ECSHL regular season but got all they could handle from the Breakers in the league final.
In fact, Southern Shore outscored St. John’s 20-18 in the six games.
The difference came in overtime wins by the Caps in Games 5 and 6.
In the latter, the Breakers got a game-tying goal from Brandon Pye with seven seconds remaining in regulation and the goalie on the bench for an extra attacker. However, John Ryan scored almost six minutes into the extra frame to give St. John’s the win and its fifth league title in seven years.
The Caps also won AESHL crowns in 2012, 2013 and 2014, but in those years, didn’t participate in the Herder championship.
Goalie Kyle Downer made 55 saves for St. John’s in Sunday’s title-clinching game, while Caps defenceman Dylan Brake was named the playoff MVP.