Rover­ines rise above

Un­der-20 fe­male team cap­tures pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship in con­vinc­ing style

The Compass - - ORTHTE - BY TERRY ROBERTS THE COM­PASS

A for­mi­da­ble fe­male hockey team com­prised of play­ers from three mi­nor as­so­ci­a­tions in the re­gion — Bay Arena, CeeBees and Trin­ity-Pla­cen­tia — cap­tured the un­der-20 pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship in con­vinc­ing style ear­lier this month on home ice in Bay Roberts.

The Rover­ines thumped arch-ri­vals Con­cep­tion Bay Re­gional Rene­gades 5-0 in the fi­nal on Sun­day, March 17, com­plet­ing a strong per­for­mance at the five-team tour­na­ment, and prov­ing that fe­male hockey in the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion re­gion is alive and well.

“Th­ese are all very tal­ented play­ers,” team man­ager Jeff Car­a­van stated fol­low­ing the tour­na­ment. “They’re all very ex­pe­ri­enced and many have played at very high lev­els of the game, in­clud­ing Canada Games.”

The Rover­ines went into the tour­na­ment as one of the teams favoured to win it all, along with St. John’s and CBR.

Pow­ered by the high-scor­ing prow­ess of Natalie Keep­ing, who led all tour­na­ment point-get­ters with seven goals and two as­sists, the veteran lead­er­ship of Tay­lor An­der­son and Becky Cahill, and stand­out goal­tend­ing from the tan­dem of Court­ney Car­a­van and Claire Ne­whook, the Rover­ines were all but unstoppable.

It was a sat­is­fy­ing re­sult for a core group of play­ers that had set­tled for four sil­ver and one bronze over the past five years, and had grown ac­cus­tomed to watch­ing their coun­ter­parts from CBR skate away with the gold.

“They really jelled this year and came to­gether as a team,” Car­a­van added.

Three-way tie

The only blem­ish on the road to gold was a hard fought and feisty 4-3 loss to CBR in the fi­nal game of the round-robin, de­spite a two-goal per­for­mance by Dana Thorne.

This re­sulted in a three-way tie be­tween St. John’s, Rover­ines and CBR for top spot. All three fin­ished with 3-1 records.

But tie-break­ing pro­ce­dures elim­i­nated St. John’s, set­ting up an­other head-to-head en­counter in the fi­nal be­tween the Rover­ines and CBR.

The Rover­ines, how­ever, were not to be de­nied in the fi­nal, with Ali­cia Gil­lam lead­ing the charge with two goals and an as­sist.

The home team held a 2-0 lead af­ter two pe­ri­ods, with goals off the sticks of An­der­son and Gil­lam.

Any con­cerns about a CBR come­back in the third were dashed be­tween pe­ri­ods when An­der­son, who is ag­ing out of the pro­gram, ral­lied her team­mates in the dress­ing room.

An­der­son said she had been play­ing for 15 years, and had only 15 min­utes left in her mi­nor hockey ca­reer. She didn’t want it to end on a los­ing note.

“The girls all went quiet,” Jeff Car­a­van stated. “They got into a big cir­cle in the dress­ing room and you could see them coming to­gether as a team.

“They went out in the third pe­riod with com­plete fo­cus and shut them down. It was beau­ti­ful,” he added. Gil­lam, Tay­lor Quin­lan and Brooke Wil­liamson added in­surance mark­ers in the third pe­riod. Ne­whook posted the shutout, turn­ing aside the 11 shots she faced. The Rover­ines pep­pered the CBR net with 33 shots.

Turn­ing point

The turn­ing point of the tour­ney for the Rover­ines came in Game 3, against St. John’s.

Both teams were well-matched, with the Rover­ines hold­ing a slim 2-1 lead in the fi­nal min­utes when the ref­eree awarded a penalty shot

to St. John’s.

Car­a­van came up big on the play, and the Rover­ines later scored an empty-net­ter to se­cure a 3-1 vic­tory.

Keep­ing had two tal­lies, while An­der­son chipped in with a sin­gle.

The Rover­ines also posted round-robin wins over Lake Melville (7-1) and Labrador West (7-3), with Keep­ing record­ing a five-point game against Lake Melville (three goals and two helpers).

Mean­while, the three as­so­ci­a­tions ap­pear to have found a win­ning for­mula in their unique part­ner­ship. At the be­gin­ning of each hockey sea­son, of­fi­cials com­pare notes on reg­is­tra­tion lev­els at the un­der-12, un­der-15 and un­der-20 fe­male di­vi­sions.

At the un­der-20 level, nei­ther as­so­ci­a­tion had enough to ice a team this sea­son, so a part­ner­ship was es­tab­lished, and it was de­cided the team would be based at the Bay Arena. Last sea­son, the team was based in Whit­bourne.

“I think they will be a team of the fu­ture, for sure,” said Car­a­van, not­ing that only two play­ers are not re­turn­ing.

ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Goal­keeper Court­ney Car­a­van speaks with the coach­ing staff dur­ing an in­ter­mis­sion. Dana Thorne had a two-goal per­for­mance in a 4-3 round-robin loss to CBR.

Photo by Tammy Sparkes/spe­cial to The Com­pass

Mem­bers of the Rover­ines un­der-20 fe­male hockey team in­clude: Front (l-r) — Court­ney Car­a­van and Claire Ne­whook (goalies); sec­ond row — coach Erin Earle, Becky Cahill, Tay­lor Quin­lan, Kayla LeDrew, Tay­lor An­der­son, Ali­cia Gil­lam, Su­san Hard­ing and Noelle Rus­sell; back — coach Bud Chafe, Re­gan Mor­ris, Brooke Wil­liamson, Karissa Brad­bury, Natalie Keep­ing, Dana Thorne, Chelsee Brad­bury, Tara Hef­ford, Ni­cole Ban­nis­ter, man­ager Jeff Car­a­van, Paige His­cock, coach Ian Nor­ris and trainer Stan Keep­ing.

Brooke Wil­liamson fol­lows the ac­tion from the bench.

Coach Ian Nor­ris tries to in­spire his play­ers dur­ing a late-game timeout. At right is coach Erin Earle.

Ref­eree David Crane (right) raises his arm to in­di­cate a rough­ing penalty to Rover­ines’ de­fence­man Ni­cole Ban­nis­ter.

Bud Chafe of Har­bour Grace was in­vited onto the bench as a guest coach dur­ing the tour­na­ment. Chafe helped pioneer fe­male hockey in the re­gion.

LEFT: Lau­ren Don­ald­son (cen­tre) of the CBR Rene­gades is helped to the bench fol­low­ing a big col­li­sion in front of the Rover­ines’ bench.

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