Bay Arena Rovers no dud at the Spud

Team falls short of cham­pi­onship game in Prince Ed­ward Is­land tour­ney

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Prior to head­ing to The Spud AAA Mi­nor Hockey Tour­na­ment Jan. 30-Feb. 2, the Bay Arena mi­nor ban­tam A team had hopes of com­pet­ing.

How­ever, the more than a dozen play­ers skated that ex­pec­ta­tion out of the rink.

“They did more than com­pete,” said coach Nel­son Ben­nett.

Based out of Char­lot­te­town, Prince Ed­ward Is­land, the tour­na­ment fea­tures some of the pre­mier ban­tam play­ers in At­lantic Canada. For an equiv­a­lent, one would look to the Monc­to­nian AAA midget tour­na­ment held in Monc­ton, New Brunswick ev­ery year.

In the round robin, the Rovers posted a record of two wins and one loss. In its first game, Bay Arena dropped a nar­row 5-4 de­ci­sion to the Sé­na­teurs Pénin­sule Aca­di­enne. Colin Par­sons, Cameron Simms (2) and Mark Bar­rett were the goal sco­eres.

Next was a 4-1 vic­tory over the Kings County Kings, of Mon­tague, PEI. In this game, Simms, Bar­rett, Ryan Pet­ten and Noah Mercer scored for the Rovers.

The Rovers fol­lowed that up with a 5-1 vic­tory over the host Char­lot­te­town Ab­bies. Bar­rett, Mercer, Pet­ten, Simms and Bran­don Crane had the goals.

In the quater­fi­nals, the Rovers met the Mid Isle Ma­trix of Kens­ing­ton, PEI. Bay Arena de­feated the Ma­trix 4-1. Cameron Simms (2), Zachary Ben­nett and Mark Bar­rett were the goal scor­ers.

Af­ter the quar­ters, Bay Arena would lose a heart­break­ing 1-0 de­ci­sion to even­tual cham­pi­ons Fred­er­ic­ton Cana­di­ens in the semi­fi­nals.

“It was a fab­u­lous game,” said Ben­nett.

The first pe­riod be­longed to the team from Fred­er­ic­ton.

“They took it to us in the first, no doubt about that,” said Ben­nett.

How­ever, the fi­nal two pe­ri­ods be­longed to the Rovers.

The game was very phys­i­cal. Both teams de­liv­ered bone-jar­ring hits, flashed in­nate hockey abil­ity and pro­duced a hockey game that must have been a joy for ob­servers to wit­ness.

Al­though the sec­ond frame saw the Rovers main­tain a slight edge in chances, Ben­nett felt his team re­ally turned it up in the third. “We dom­i­nated the third pe­riod,” he said. In the fi­nal two min­utes of the third, the team had nu­mer­ous chances to net the ty­ing goal, but it was not meant to be.

First, sniper Mark Bar­rett was sent on a break­away af­ter a break­out pass from Ryan Pet­ten. It took a mirac­u­lous save from the goal­tender to pre­serve the lead.

“I said to him, ‘If I had the choice be­tween you or Sid­ney Crosby in that sit­u­a­tion, I’d choose you ev­ery time.’ He’s done it so many times,” said Ben­nett.

From there, the Rovers pressed even harder. The team threw ev­ery­thing at Fred­er­ic­ton, but the puck would not cross the line. From the puck hit­ting the cross­bar to pucks slid­ing across the goal line, the Rovers did ev­ery­thing they could to score.

“It was fab­u­lous hockey though. We were right there,” said Ben­nett.

Fred­er­ic­ton would go on to win the tour­na­ment.

High­lights

For any team to make a run to the semi­fi­nals in a tour­na­ment, there are bound to be a host of no­table per­for­mances.

The Rovers were no dif­fer­ent.

Ben­nett said both of the team’s goal­tenders — Ri­ley and Owen Pet­ten (not re­lated) — played great.

“Our goal­tenders were lights played amaz­ing,” said Ben­nett.

The Rovers top unit was, as the coach de­scribed it, “the best top unit in the tour­na­ment.”

That line fea­tured Zachary Ben­nett, Colin Par­sons, Cameron Simms, Pet­ten and Barett.

He made men­tion of for­ward Simms. Simms fin­ished the tour­na­ment with six tal­lies.

“He proved him­self to be one of the best play­ers in At­lantic Canada,” said Ben­nett.

No hockey

out. They

What makes the Rovers’ suc­cess at the Spud even more com­pelling is the amount of games the team has played as a unit.

“Of course, the first ques­tion you’re asked up there is how many games have you played,” said Ben­nett.

The an­swer to that ques­tion for the Rovers, up un­til the start of the tour­na­ment, was none. The play­ers get hockey in house league and pro­vin­cial AAA pro­grams, but so far, they’ve had very lit­tle as a team.

That was a stark con­trast from the other teams in the tour­na­ment.

“Even the novices were be­tween 50 and 60 games,” said Ben­nett. “We just play each other, that’s all we do.”

High level

The Spud is the largest AAA tour­na­ment in At­lantic Canada, and fea­tures teams from novice to ban­tam.

The Rovers were not sup­posed to make it as far as the semi­fi­nals. The team is clas­si­fied as an A level club, and the Spud is re­served for AAA teams.

“They would not ac­cept us un­til HNL called and told them we were good enough,” said Ben­nett.

Af­ter some con­vinc­ing, tour­na­ment of­fi­cials re­lented on their ini­tial re­sponse and let the Rovers into the tour­na­ment.

Ben­nett had noth­ing but praise for the tour­na­ment. “It was a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.” Mem­bers of the team are: Cameron Simms, Ryan Pet­ten, Mark Bar­rett, Noah Mercer, Zachary Ben­nett, Bran­don Crane, Owen Pet­ten, Ri­ley Pet­ten, Cameron Chip­man, Kyle Tet­ford, Justin Jones, Lu­cas Reid, Ma­son Oates, Darcy O’Reilly, Colin Par­sons, Ja­cob Rus­sell and Rob­bie Craig. Coaches are: Nel­son Ben­nett, Wade Oates and Lind­sey Pet­ten.

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