Di­a­mond feel­ing pol­ished

CeeBees’ keeper gun­ning for fourth Herder ti­tle

The Compass - - ORTHTE - BY ANDREW ROBIN­SON

It’s not an easy job to be a goalie. More than any other po­si­tion in hockey, the goal­tender’s ev­ery move is scru­ti­nized to the ut­most de­gree, and when they’re at fault for a ques­tion­able goal, mouths be­gin to chat­ter.

The slow start to the sea­son for the Con­cep­tion Bay North Cee­Bee Stars had a num­ber of se­nior hockey fans spec­u­lat­ing whether goalie Freddy Di­a­mond was the one to get the job done for the team. This de­spite his three Herder wins for the team and last sea­son’s play­off MVP in the Avalon East play­offs.

“ The pres­sure is what­ever you make it to be,” says Di­a­mond, now in his sev­enth sea­son with the CeeBees. “ If you’re think­ing the fans are on you and your team­mates are on you, it trick­les into your game. But when you’re re­laxed, calm and cool, there’s no such thing as pres­sure.”

Di­a­mond didn’t let the crit­ics phase him, and his play dur­ing this year’s fi­nal went a long way to­wards si­lenc­ing those who ques­tioned his abil­ity to lead the team back to its sev­enth-straight Herder fi­nal.

Af­ter let­ting in seven goals through the first two games, Di­a­mond played bril­liantly. He only al­lowed six goals in the fi­nal four games on 138 shots, sport­ing a spec­tac­u­lar .956 save per­cent­age and a 1.50 goals-against-av­er­age. • Age – 27 • Po­si­tion – goal­tender • Height – six feet, one inch • Weight – 195 pounds • Favourite hockey team – Con­cep­tion Bay North Cee­Bee Stars

• Favourite hockey player – Sid­ney Crosby

• Favourite hockey mo­ment – play­ing in the na­tional un­der-17 tour­na­ment in 1999 in Syd­ney, N. S. with Matthew French

• Favourite team­mate French

– Fol­low­ing Game 6, Di­a­mond was named the play­off MVP for the sec­ond straight year.

“Game 3, I think we were down 2-0 in Har­bour Grace. If we go down 3-0, it’s pretty much in the books. But we bat­tled back. We were short­handed for six min­utes, and we killed off those six min­utes and came back. That was the turn­ing point in the se­ries.”

With a hurt­ing de­fence miss­ing its top-two play­ers in Bran­don Roach and Mike Dyke, the CeeBees needed Di­a­mond to play well, and he did.

“ I couldn’t be happier with the way our de­fence is play­ing,” he says. “ In­juries are part of the game, and I’m sure when (coach) Ian Moores was putting to­gether this team, he knew we could have in­juries, and he brought in qual­ity guys who could help fill the void.”

Now he’s fac­ing a new op­po­nent in the Grand Falls-Wind­sor Cataracts, and Di­a­mond says Herder prepa­ra­tions never re­ally change for him from year-to-year.

Gus

“ It’s what keeps you com­ing back,” says the Bon­av­ista na­tive. “ The Herder is the be-all-end-all of hockey. It’s the best it’s go­ing to get in our lives. The ex­cite­ment never dies when it comes to the Herder tro­phy.”

Di­a­mond’s first trip to the Herder fi­nal in 2005 ended in dis­ap­point­ment, as the Ceebees fell to the Deer Lake Red Wings in seven games. But Di­a­mond’s team had the last laugh, de­feat­ing the Red Wing the next year en route to three straight Herder wins.

First lac­ing into a pair of skates at the age of two, Di­a­mond found his

• Favourite place in New­found­land – Bon­av­ista

• Hockey men­tors – par­ents Bob and Lynn Di­a­mond

• Favourite mu­si­cal artist – Iron Maiden • Favourite movie – Pearl Har­bour • Favourite tele­vi­sion se­ries – The So­pra­nos

• Favourite sport other than ice hockey – ball hockey • Favourite food – French toast • Favourite read­ing ma­te­rial – ac­tion nov­els way into goalie pads when he was seven years old, and he’s kept them on ever since. He grew up idol­iz­ing Pa­trick Roy, and later learned to ap­pre­ci­ate the skills of fel­low but­ter­fly spe­cial­ist Martin Brodeur.

“I try to be ag­gres­sive, but I try to be calm at the same time,” Di­a­mond says of his ap­proach to play­ing goal. “ You don’t want to be mak­ing the first move. You sort of want to have your an­gles (cov­ered) and try not to do any­thing stupid, re­ally.”

His play for the CeeBees has kept him sur­rounded by tal­ented play­ers ev­ery sea­son, and he says the cur- rent crop of CeeBees came to­gether nicely as the year pro­gressed.

“Start­ing off the sea­son, it was a bit slow. I think ev­ery­one had these ex­pec­ta­tions and re­ally didn’t know how to dig down deep in­side them­selves and bring their A-game.”

Through hard work and some team meet­ings, Di­a­mond says the CeeBees have pulled through. All that’s left now is the task of de­feat­ing a tal­ented op­po­nent from cen­tral New­found­land, the Cataracts, one game at a time.

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