Going out in style
Ascension Astros win AAAA girls ball hockey gold
The girls’ AAAA ball hockey championship game between the Ascension Collegiate Astros and the Mount Pearl Huskies was looking like it was destined to go for overtime at Ascension Collegiate in Bay Roberts on April 27.
Astros goaltender Courtney Caravan and her Mount Pearl counterpart kept their teams in the game with big save after big save and the game was deadlocked at three goals apiece with just under a minute remaining in the second half of play.
Then Astros captain Chelsea Bradbury scored a miracle goal.
Picking up the ball just over mid-court on the Astros side, Bradbury spun and fired at the Mount Pearl goal.
The shot found its way through a maze of legs and no less than four bodies, including the opposing goaltender, striking the bottom bar and the back of the net.
As the gymnasium around her erupted in a mixture of screams and positive emotions, Bradbury had not realized it went in.
When she did, she let out a primal scream and turned to face some of her teammates on the Ascension bench.
“First, I just see everyone and I hear everyone and then it hits me, and I just know it went it in,” said Bradbury.
The Astros would ride out the last 53 seconds en route to the school’s third provincial girls AAAA ball hockey championship and first since 2006-2007.
Natalie Keeping, with a pair, and Brooke Williamson would also score for the winning team.
Reality still has not set in for the Level III athlete and Bay Roberts resident.
Bradbury has played with the senior high team since she was in Grade 8 at nearby Amalgamated Academy.
In the five years she has been with the team, this was her first taste of provincial ball hockey gold.
So, it’s fitting that Bradbury was the one to score the game-winning goal in her last high school tournament.
Even thinking about the game-winning tally causes Bradbury to pause.
“I don’t even know how to describe it,” she said. “Even just thinking about it now makes me feel good.”
While Bradbury scored the medal-clinching goal, she was quick to shine the spotlight on the rest of her teammates.
“It was a team effort,” she said.
All members of the team had a hand in the victory. Whether it was the players on the back end or the forwards, each player had a role to play.
Bradbury said the team focused on protecting its own end, while putting pressure on the other team.
After surviving the initial push from Mount Pearl, the Astros settled down and played its game.
Getting a couple of key saves from its goaltender, Ascension grinded out the victory.
Long time coming
For Bradbury, and the rest of the seniors on the team, the AAAA victory was a long time coming. After narrowly missing out on the gold medal last year, the Astros were chomping at the bit to get another chance.
The Astros lost to the champion Crescent Collegiate Coyotes, in Blaketown, 4-3 in that championship game. Ascension avenged that loss by beating the favoured Crescent team in the regional playdowns this year to clinch its spot in the provincials.
The Coyotes had previously competed in the 2011 final, picking up a silver medal.
So, how does it feel to win a provincial title in your last year of high school competition?
“It’s a high that you can’t even describe,” said Bradbury, fighting back tears.
Astros goaltender Courtney Caravan keeps her eye on the ball in order to make a save in the championship against Mount Pearl.
The Ascension Collegiate Astros girls’ ball hockey team bested the Mount Pearl Huskies 4-3 to capture the AAAA provincial championship on April 27 at Ascension Collegiate in Bay Roberts. Here the team is shown with Port de Grave MHA Glenn Littlejohn (centre). Members of the team are: front (l-r) — April Squires and goaltender Courtney Caravan; back — coach Fred Simms, Emily Parsons, Jenna Pham, Lisa Bradbury, Natalie Keeping, Chelsee Bradbury, Courtney Petten, Brooke Williamson, Taylor Quinlan, Kaila LeDrew, Cailey Drover and coach Lisa Penney.