After a 12-year hiatus from the rink, the L’Anse au Loup Wolves are back.
The team hit the ice for the annual Competitive Adult Hockey Tournament, held in Lourdes de Blanc Sablon, Quebec Jan. 18-20.
The Wolves finished with a 1-3 record, bowing out of the tournament in the semi-finals against the St. Augustine Devils.
But the end result hardly mattered.
The big news was that the team was back together again, and they’re hoping it’s for the foreseeable future.
This isn’t the first time the team has played since 2007. They donned the old jerseys and got back together once last year for a tournament in St. Paul’s River.
They took home that tournament banner.
But it could have been just a one-off event.
Now, they have a team full-time.
Jordan Barney, who the team calls the “general manager”, didn’t play in the tournament but he led the initiative to get the Wolves back together.
“We got more of a formal, organized team this year,” he told The Northern Pen. “We talked about having a team on the go for the last six or seven years and we just couldn’t get our ducks in a row, basically.”
This time a lot of the men who were interested in playing all happened to be around at the right time.
But, there were still obstacles to having the team prepared for the tournament.
For one, the goaltender had to be flown in from St. John’s at the last minute and four or five players dropped out right before the tournament with injuries.
But they picked up a couple extra players and ended up with 14 skaters dressed for the tournament – enough for three lines of forwards, two defensive pairings and a goalie.
They laced up their skates, donning new jerseys sponsored by the Labrador Fishermen’s Union Shrimp Company, and hit the ice for the first time on Friday.
According to Barney, the team was a bit “rusty” starting out and wasn’t quite used to playing with each other.
They lost their first game, but they bounced right back, winning the second game 5-2.
It was their only victory, but that hardly mattered.
For team captain Dustin Fowler, it was his first time playing for the Wolves, an experience he now shares with his grandfather, Wayne Earle, who donned the jersey years ago.
“It was a great experience to be a part of the Wolves team,” he told The Northern Pen. “I think everybody felt the same.”
Fowler was impressed by the community spirit the team seemed to bring out in L’Anse au Loup.
“Everybody was pretty excited to see the Wolves playing, there were a lot of spectators from down around our area,” he said. “A lot of people there cheering us on. It was very motivational, especially when you’re in someone else’s arena. It was pretty inspiring.”Many residents drove to Lourdes de Blanc Sablon to support and cheer on the Wolves.
Fowler said even young people, children and teenagers, who had never seen the Wolves in action but had heard stories about them, were excited to see the team play.
Fowler appreciated the support and thanked the fans. He also credited Barney for taking the initiative and doing much of the work in getting the team back together.
Up next, the Wolves are hoping to lace up for a tournament in St. Augustine, Quebec in early February and to defend its title in St. Paul’s River, Quebec in late February.
Barney hopes next year they will be able to organize a tournament back home at the Labrador Straits Arena in L’Anse au Loup.