These guys have national pedigree
Five Conception Bay North ball hockey players a part of national champion NL squad
Newfoundland and Labrador’s under-15 male ball hockey team did not have a lot of time to get to know each other.
The squad was a team thrown together a group of players from across the province. Perhaps what makes it amazing is that the team, featuring five players from the Conception Bay North region, had one hour of practice time before boarding their flight to Winnipeg for the tournament being held between the St. Norbert Arena and the MTS Iceplex July 31-3.
Yet, there were Cameron Simms (Bay Roberts), Mark Barrett (Spaniard’s Bay), Noah Donovan (Upper Island Cove), Colin Parsons (Bay Roberts) and Matthew Hoyles (Carbonear) and their teammates in the championship game against their counterparts from Saskatchewan on Aug. 3.
“It was a good tournament,” noted Parsons.
The team made it to the championship based off a preliminary round record of two wins and one loss.
Newfoundland jumped out to the early one-goal advantage when Simms beat the Saskatchewan goaltender.
However, the tides quickly turned as Newfoundland fell behind 2-1. That lasted until two minutes remaining in the third period when Barrett tied the game up at two.
Then, Gander’s Andrew Mercer notched the winner less than a minute into the overtime period.
“It was a great feeling,” said Simms of Mercer’s game-clinching goal.
There was celebrating both on the floor and in the dressing room afterwards. Gloves, helmets and sticks were discarded as teammates embraced each other in a champion’s hug.
“It was a great weekend,” said Parsons.
At the conclusion of the tournament, defenceman Barrett was named to the tournaments all-star team while Simms was named Team NL’s top forward.
Barrett (three goals and four assists), Simms ( four goals and three assists) and Donovan (three goals and three assists)contributed on the offensive end, while Parsons and Hoyles provided a good work ethic and solid depth.
Newfoundland were in tough from the get-go at the national tourney. They were matched with the host Winnipeg squad, the defending national champions.
Team NL got into penalty trouble and quickly fell behind 2-0.
“We took a lot of penalties,” said Parsons.
Despite that, a pair of goals by Barrett and St. John’s Johnny Devereux tied the game at three.
Winnipeg jumped out to a 3-2 before Donovan scored to make it 3-3. Then Simms scored to put Newfoundland up by one. Barrett scored his second with just .25 seconds remaining to seal the 5-3 victory.
“We showed a lot of heart,” said Simms.
In Game 2, Team NL fell behind 20 to Ontario before storming back on goals from Cameron Hemeon, Simms and Donovan.
The team fell to British Columbia 6-0 in Game 3. This set up a semifinal matchup with Manitoba. Avery Heath, Donovan and Simms scored in the 3-0 victory.
Although the team had been together for less than two weeks, the players contributed their success to the familiarity they had with each other.
This was particularly true in the case of the players from CBN. Four of them — Simms, Barrett, Parsons and Donovan — take part in a summer ball league at Ascension Collegiate in Bay Roberts, while Hoyles has played with them at the provincial level in ice hockey.
“We all knew each other,” said Parsons.
When asked what it feels like to hear themselves being called national champions, their response was simple.
“It sounds real good,” said Simms.
The Newfoundland and Labrador under-15 male ball hockey team are national champions. Featuring five players from Conception Bay North, the team defeated Team Saskatchewan in the final 3-2 at the MTS Iceplex in Winnipeg, Man., on Aug. 3. The five local players, from left, are Colin Parsons, Cameron Simms, Noah Donovan, Mark Barrett and Matthew Hoyles.