It was a nail-biting end to this year’s Max Winters Memorial Trapper’s Cup on April 8.
The annual hockey competition, at the EJ Broomfield Memorial Arena, features old-time players from Happy Valley Goose Bay and North West River meet up for a one-off match.
For some of these players, it’s their one and only hockey match for the year.
Although the match was played in Happy Valley Goose Bay, the support from the crowd was overwhelmingly in favour of the North West River team, with one section in the bleachers making noise for almost the entire game.
The game began with both teams skating hard and pushing for goals. It was a goal-for-goal in the first 20 minutes with constant forward pressure by each team.
After the first period the game was tied 3-3.
In the second period, the North West River team pushed hard, keeping the puck inside the Happy Valley-Goose Bay blue line.
It was an easy period for the North West River goaltender, Harvey Jacque, as his team scored another three goals to finish the period 6-3.
With only 20 mins remaining it looked as though the North West River team had the game all stitched up.
However, Happy Valley Goose Bay was not done yet.
They scored early in the third to bring to score to 6-4. That’s where it stayed until two minutes and 34 seconds from the final buzzer when they scored once to make it 6-5.
With a North West River player in the penalty box Happy Valley Goose Bay had a one-man advantage as the seconds ticked away.
With 1:13 left on the clock, Happy Valley Goose Bay pulled their goalie for a six-on-four man advantage. However, their quest for victory was not to be.
As they were trying to work the puck into the North West River net, they were intercepted. The puck went loose down the ice; Junior Hodder of North West River latched onto it and sent it into the empty net for a short-handed goal to increase his team’s lead to 7-5 with 41 seconds left on the clock. And that ended up the winning score.
It was a great moment for team captain Ernie McLean; this was just his third time playing in the Trapper’s Cup.
The 73-year-old joked that he had to wait until he was 70 to play in this tournament because he was still playing regular hockey.
“The Trappers Cup is meant for those players that basically only play once a year, but now that I am over 70, I qualify to play”, said McLean.
The former MHA for Lake Melville, and chair of the Labrador Winter Games Association, plays hockey three times per week, with a group of about 20 other players ranging in age from 40-60.
Until about five years ago he was part of the Labrador Huskies, an old timers’ team that competed in tournaments in the USA and Canada.
“We used to play in the annual ‘Monctonian’ Tournament in Moncton. We started this is the late 80’s and carried on playing in this through the 90’s. As some of the players go on in age, they decided to give up with the travel and the playing.”
He told The Labradorian he continues to play because he loves the game.
“It’s not all about the winning. I enjoy the exercise, but its now more about the challenge, and giving the younger players a bit of inspiration to continue to play on.”
About Max Winters
Max Winters was a well-known figure in the recreation world in Labrador who passed away in 2015.
He was well known for his dedication to sport organizing, coaching, officiating and leading sports and recreation programs, as well as his contributions to initiatives such as the establishment of the E.J Broomfield Memorial Arena, Labrador Winter Games, chairing of the committee which established the Happy Valley-Goose Bay Ground Search and Rescue, participation on the Melville Hospital In-Service Committee and involvement in the Labrador Inuit Development Corporation.
A tireless and dedicated volunteer, Winters was inducted into the NL Volunteer Hall of Fame in 2012 and inducted into the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2007 in recognition of his leadership roles within Happy Valley-Goose Bay.