‘It’s a hid­den gem’

The Compass - - OR­THTE -

Lav­i­gne said the cal­i­bre of play in the New­found­land Se­nior Hockey League was a sur­prise to him.

“It’s not some­thing we hear a lot about be­ing out­side of New­found­land. I’ve heard a bit be­fore but never paid much at­ten­tion to it. Now that I’ve seen it first hand, it’s a hid­den gem,” he said.

Lav­i­gne re­cently got his first taste of NL­SHL ac­tion when the CeeBees opened the sea­son in Gan­der Oct. 20-21, and he was im­pressed by what he saw on the ice.

The league is ripe with tal­ent a cou­ple of steps away from pro­fes­sional hockey and the On­tario na­tive feels lucky to be skat­ing with the play­ers.

“I get to play with for­mer NHL draft picks,” he said.

One thing that sticks out to Lav­i­gne is that the play­ers have a life out­side of the game.

“It’s pretty cool to have play­ers who play hockey as a sec­ond job, you know, have a reg­u­lar life and then get to play that high cal­i­bre of hockey,” he said.

Com­ing to Har­bour Grace

Lav­i­gne grad­u­ated from St. Thomas last spring and was all set to take a crack at pro­fes­sional hockey when he got a call to do his Masters in Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion at the Univer­sity of New Brunswick.

The Var­sity Reds al­ready had two fifth-year goal­tenders — Travis Fuller­ton and Daniel LaCosta — so Lav­i­gne de­cided take the year and con­cen­trate on his stud­ies.

Without a spot, head coach Gar­diner MacDougall got Lav­i­gne in con­tact with CeeBees head coach and gen­eral man­ager Corey Crocker.

Lav­i­gne was un­aware of the his­tory be­hind the CeeBees or­ga­ni­za­tion. It was not un­til he ar­rived in St. John’s for the first team skate in Septem­ber that he re­al­ized just how steeped in his­tory it was.

Crocker had high words of praise for Lav­i­gne af­ter he helped the CeeBees win the first two games of the sea­son.

“He’s con­fi­dent with the puck and showed signs of bril­liance,” Crocker said.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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