GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – The Clarenville Caribous defeated the host Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts 6-3 on Sunday to win Division A gold at the Fred Grimes Memorial Bantam Invitational.
The hotly contested game was tied 3-3 nearing the halfway mark of the third when the Caribous exploded with four goals in under five minutes to solidify the win.
Zach Slade, Nathan Baker (game-winner), Marcus Rideout and Lucas Jefford scored the third-period goals that led the charge for the ‘Bous.
“It was a great game, a chippy game, but the kids showed up, especially in the third,” said head coach Troy Hunt after Sunday’s game. “We kind of lagged a bit in the first two periods, but we picked it up in the third and a lot of kids stepped up. They did a great job. I’m really proud of them.”
It was an even affair for most of the game, one that had overtime written all over it.
However, after Slade scored to tie the game, the ice seemed to tilt in the Caribous’ favour. Hunt said his team simply “dug in” and “gave ‘er” to the end, and the result was a banner win.
Despite a tough loss, Cataract’s head coach Ken Dicks said the tournament provided a fantastic weekend of hockey, which was capped by an entertaining ‘A’ final.
He said the competing teams were evenly skilled, creating some compelling action for the fans.
“The tournament itself went over extremely well. All of the teams were even…and we were fortunate enough to get into the final,” said the head coach from his team’s dressing room. “It was 2-2 after 2, so there’s obviously parity, but Clarenville played very well in the third period. They took over the game and deserved to win.”
Both teams continue preparing for their respective provincial tournaments, which will happen in April.
Tournaments like the invitational give coaches the chance to tinker with lines and strategies, and Hunt said that will continue until the puck drops at provincials.
“It’s like I told the team, it’s great that we won this tournament, but it’s a build towards provincials,” said Hunt. “We started playing a lot of hockey after Christmas, and we’ve gradually gotten better…and the more games we get moving forward will certainly help us.”
When asked if physical games like Sunday’s gold-medal tilt further prepare his team for provincials, where the intensity will be amped, Dicks agreed.
However, the coach took a second before continuing, adding physical games not only prepare his team for provincials – they also teach players an important life lesson, he said.
“As you know, minor hockey has gone away from body contact, so I kind of look at it as a lesson in life. You need to have some self-control,” said Dicks. “Hockey is one of the few places where you can haul back and hit somebody and get two minutes. You need to have some self-control.
“Minor hockey is life development.”
Jesse Mackey and Evan Tucker scored the other two goals for the Caribous.
The Cats got a pair of goals from captain Kadon Murray and a single from Shane Hynes.