Rovers grind out tournament win
Midget B team looking good en route to provincials during Easter break
The Bay Arena midget B Rovers were in tough against the Gander Flyers in the championship game of the Quiznos midget B tournament held at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts on Feb. 17.
The game was tied 2-2 in the second period and the Flyers had just scored to tie the game up.
With the much of the play down in the Rovers end of the ice, Bay Arena captain Willy Hayes made a play. Picking up the puck in his own end, Hayes quickly surveyed the ice in front of him.
Noticing the Flyers were in the midst of a change, Hayes moved his 200-pound frame up the ice. At his own blueline, the captain made one person miss. Five feet later, another Flyer missed.
With one more defender left to beat, Hayes dipped his left shoulder and as the defenceman shifted to his right, the Rover went right, leaving nothing to look at but his jersey number moving toward the net.
Firing a shot low blocker side, Hayes hit the back of the net. With hands extended to the sky, he was swarmed by his teammates.
Hayes has just put his team up 3-2, and the Rovers would not look back.
“I just knew we needed a goal,” the Level II Ascension Collegiate student said after the game.
The Rovers, sparked by their captain, turned up the pressure after that.
Matthew Sparkes would bang in a loose puck to make the score 42. Mike Kennedy would score to make it 5-2, which also turned out to be the final.
Save for some advances by the Flyers to begin the third period, which were turned away by starter Matthew Russell, the Bay Arena squad dominated the play.
The Rovers started off the tournament in fine style, posting back-toback shutouts of the Trinity-Placentia TeePees and the CeeBees.
The TeePees fell 11-0, while the CeeBees were dropped by a score of 9-0.
Next up were the Twillingate/New World Island Combines. Russell would let in his first two goals of the tournament, but the Rovers still picked up the 6-2 win.
The team would tie Gander in the round-robin 3-3 after falling behind 30 late in the second period.
The Rovers will be travelling to Twillingate for its provincial championships on April 1-3 as the Combines host the tournament.
Joining them in the tournament will be the Gander midget B team.
It was invaluable experience for the club, facing two teams from the tour- ney, and having success against both.
“The tournament was a great warm-up for provincials,” said Hayes. “It gives us a tasted of what is to come in April.”
Hayes believes that he and his teammates are coming together at the right time.
Watching the team on the ice, it is not hard to see the team has good chemistry and general care for each other.
Hayes s a i d the l i nes h ave remained the same for pretty much the entire season, and that has helped breed familiarity and trust in one another.
“I think that over the past four months the team has came together very well and everyone’s getting to know how each other,” he said.
The team’s strength lies in its size and ability to move the puck.
“Out strengths are definitely that we play a hard grind style game. We have a fairly big team with speed up front and strong goaltending,” said Hayes.
The Bay Arena Rovers captured gold on home ice during the Quiznoes Midget B tournament in Bay Roberts on Feb. 15-17. The Rovers went undefeated en route to the championship, posting a record of four wins and one tie. The team defeated the Gander Flyers in the championship by a score of 5-2. Members of the team are: front (from left) — goaltender Matthew Russell; middle — Kaila LeDrew, Lucas Piercey, Paul Franey, Matthew Mugford, Andrew Churchill and Taylor Norman; back — coach Rusty Moores, Lucas Roberts, Natalie Keeping, Colin Pottle, Scott Mercer, Mike Kennedy, Willy Hayes, Matthew Sparkes, Kirkland Rodgers, Daniel Moore, Brandon Smith and coaches Stan Keeping and Ken Rodgers. Missing from photo is Nick Petten.