Quest for sixth Herder

Vet­eran Chris Cros­bie may have slowed, but his pas­sion for hockey is as strong as ever

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - BY ANDREWROBINSON

A ca­sual ob­server of the se­nior leagues might ex­pect vet­eran Cee­Bee Stars for­ward Chris Cros­bie to have had his fill of hockey. After­all, he has won five Herder ti­tles as a mem­ber of teams in Cor­ner Brook, Fla­trock, and Con­cep­tion Bay North. Along with his wife Danita, the Bay Roberts na­tive also has three chil­dren to look af­ter — Hay­ley, Amy, and Ni­cholas.

But af­ter tak­ing time off from hockey last sea­son, No. 11 for the CeeBees knew he had to come back.

“I love se­nior hockey and when I sat out a year, I had to go back one more time,” says Cros­bie. “It’s in my blood.”

And so he goes, con­tin­u­ing to play a hard-skat­ing, gritty brand of hockey that looks to cre­ate scor­ing chances for his gifted line­mates. Through most of the sec­ond half of this sea­son, Cros­bie has played on a line with top scor­ers Ray Dal­ton and Keith De­laney.

“ So many peo­ple say you’re too old and slow,” he says. “Sure I’m slower, but I am also a lot smarter than I was when I was younger.”

His line with Dal­ton and De­laney has been one of the team’s best as of late, and much of that can be at­trib­uted to how Cros­bie’s style of play com­ple­ments the out­stand­ing puck­con­trol skills of his line­mates. He also tries to help out de­fen­sively to freeup Dal­ton and De­laney.

“Lis­ten, the two of these play­ers are the fastest I ever played with. Most of the time I find my­self trail­ing the play, in which case I look af­ter de­fence while they go mad.”

He may have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a talker, hav­ing served as team cap­tain from 2006-2008, but Cros­bie says he de­fers to the younger play­ers when it comes to lead­er­ship in the dress­ing room.

“ This team is a well-knit bunch,” he says. “ They all talk and act the same way, like fam­ily. In past years, this has al­ways been an im­por­tant fac­tor, and with all the skills this team has, it’s go­ing to make us re­ally hard to beat.”

How­ever, his vet­eran pres­ence will likely come in handy dur­ing the Cee­Bee Star’s best-of-seven se­ries against the Mount Pearl Blades for the east league ti­tle. He proved his worth in Game 1 of the se­ries, scor­ing the CeeBees’ lone goal in a 3-1 loss.

The se­ries is sched­uled to re­sume on March 11 with Game 4 at the Glacier in Mount Pearl. Game 5 (if nec­es­sary) takes place the fol­low­ing night in Har­bour Grace. The win­ner of the se­ries will go on to face the best from the west in the quest for the Herder Me­mo­rial Tro­phy.

The Blades, like the CeeBees, have a tal­ent-laden lineup, and also ben­e­fit from the pres­ence of vet­eran coach Randy Pearcey. He’s a fa­mil­iar face to most Cee­Bee fans, hav­ing coached the Clarenville Cari­bous to vic­to­ries in the last two Herder Me­mo­rial Cham­pi­onship se­ries.

Cros­bie ex­pects check­ing will be a key com­po­nent to beat­ing the Blades.

“ We have to get pucks deep and hit their de­fence hard, with our de­fence step­ping up and hit­ting their for­wards to slow them down.”

Of course, Cros­bie knows a thing or two about what it takes to win the Herder tro­phy, hav­ing won it five times. His favourite win re­mains his first with the CeeBees in 2006 — the CeeBees’ first Herder win in 39 years.

“ Def­i­nitely, my first herder win with the Ceebees when I was cap­tain ac­cept­ing the Herder,” he says, pin­point­ing the one that means the most to him. “ That was my cup!”

In his role as a check­ing-for­ward amongst scor­ers, Cros­bie knows how to play against op­pos­ing teams. His ef­fec­tive­ness at ex­e­cut­ing has at times at­tracted ex­tra at­ten­tion from op­po­nents, in­di­cat­ing Cros­bie has the abil­ity to get un­der their skin.

“Peo­ple seem to think that, and ba­si­cally I don’t care. I play a hard­check­ing game, which in­cludes con­tact, which a lot of op­pos­ing teams don’t like.”

Hav­ing played 17 years of se­nior hockey, dat­ing back to his time with the Bay Roberts Mariners of the old CBN In­ter­me­di­ate League, Cros­bie has dealt with plenty of scrapes and bruises. Though he does not ex­plic­itly say he won’t be back next year, his choice of words seems to in­di­cate this might be the last run for Cros­bie.

“If I can make it through this year, I’ll be happy.” — 37 — left wing — five feet, nine inches — 194 pounds

— Mon­treal • • • • • Cana­di­ens • — Joe Sa­kic • — Ray Dal­ton and Keith De­laney • — fa­ther Harold Cros­bie • the west coast (for snow­mo­bil­ing) • tra­di­tional Ir­ish bands • — X-Men Ori­gins: Wolver­ine • Half Men • par­tridge hunt­ing • Sun­day din­ner • Sled­wor­thy Maga­zone (when brother Scott writes for it)

— Two and a

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