CeeBees an Allan key
Ten players suit up to help Caribous claim Allan Cup
Last year, opposing teams dominated the Clarenville Caribous at the Allan Cup, Canada’s national amateur championship for senior hockey. Three games, three losses, and none of them close.
This year, 10 reinforcements from the 2010-11 Conception Bay North Eastlink CeeBee Stars were added to the lineup, and the result was a history making performance.
For the first time in 25 years, a team from Newfoundland and Labrador has claimed the Allan Cup. The last team to accomplish that feat was the Corner Brook Royals in 1986. It’s the second win ever for a team from this province in the Allan Cup’s 103-year history.
“ Whenever you get to represent your province and come back with a championship, it’s always special,” said Brandon Roach of Bay Roberts, one of the CeeBee Stars who made the trip to Kenora, Ont. “ The feeling is unbelievable.”
The Caribous — also referred to as the CariBees or CeeBous by local hockey enthusiasts — defeated the Bentley Generals 5-3 on April 16 to claim the title. Brian Sutter, a former NHL player and coach who’s a member of the famed Sutter clan in hockey, coached the Generals. His lineup included some ex-NHLers, such as Darren Van Impe, Kevin Smyth, and Darren LaPlante.
It’s now two years in a row with a national championship for CeeBee Stars centreman Scott Brophy, who finished his Canadian intercollegiate career in 2010 by helping the St. Mary’s Huskies win a national title in hockey.
“ This is pretty special,” Brophy told The Telegram’s Robin Short. “It ranks right up there with the CIS championship, definitely, because this is the highest level of hockey I can compete in at this point of my career.”
Roach was dealing with back troubles throughout the provincial senior hockey playoffs. He committed to joining the Caribous for the Allan Cup earlier this year, and fortunately for them, his back held up just fine through the team’s four games.
The Clarenville team looked good on paper, but with forces from the CeeBees and Caribous coming together so quickly, Roach said it was hard to know what to expect at the tournament.
But after round-robin play, the Caribous quickly built up its confidence, earning wins in each of its two games.
“Guys just clicked right from Day 1,” said Roach. “Everyone is a pretty level-headed guy, which makes everything a lot easier.”
Roach had familiar partners to play with on defence throughout the tournament. He was paired with fellow CeeBee Matthew French for the first game, and he spent the rest of the Allan Cup matched with David Victor, a former teammate of Roach’s at Acadia University. Victor was unable to play in the Caribous’ first game because his equipment bag had yet to arrive.
Every team was built to compete from the first line to the fourth, according to Roach, but the Caribous never felt overmatched.
The champions never fell behind in the final against Bentley, but the Generals did manage to outshoot the Caribous 42-23. The shot count in the second period alone was 25-8 in favour of the Generals.
“I guess we have to take our hats off for (goalie) Jason Churchill,” said Roach. “He’s a big goalie, and I’ve played with him from atom right on up. He’s always been a star goalie.”
Additionally, Roach said the team managed to block a lot of shots and prevent the Generals from having in-close scoring chances.
The opportunity for so many CeeBee Stars to suit up for the Caribous may be viewed as a potential test drive for players looking to jump to another team next season. But Roach said the players were looking at it as a one-off proposal.
“ The guys weren’t looking to jump teams or jump ship — nothing like that.”
That said, Roach is still considering his options for next season. The rookie of the year for the Avalon East Senior Hockey League said he’s undecided about his own plans for the fall.
“I’d say once August roles around and (the season) gets closer, I’ll talk to some people. Maybe there’ll be some offers on the table that could change things. Maybe I’ll still be around with the CeeBees. That’s not something I’m too worried about right now. I’ll just enjoy the summer and look forward to whatever next season may bring. I could be anywhere, I guess.”
The Clarenville Caribous won the Allan Cup by defeating the Bentley Generals 5-3 on April 16. The Caribous were aided by 10 Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars players who joined the Clarenville team at the national senior hockey tournament.