Har­ris re­mem­bered as a quiet leader

Si­b­ley’s Cove teen killed in sin­gle-ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent

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

The gym­na­sium at Bac­calieu Col­le­giate was a hard place to be on Dec. 21.

A ca­pac­ity crowd was there to hon­our 17-yearold Bran­don Har­ris, a young man from Si­b­ley’s Cove who lost his life four days ear­lier in a tragic car ac­ci­dent.

It was not just the gym that was full of peo­ple pay­ing their re­spects, but also the hall­ways, stage and school cafe­te­ria.

Some 30 mem­bers of the Cee­Bees’ Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion, in­clud­ing 10 who played with Bran­don, were in attendance.

“It was emo­tional, to say the least,” said Up­per Is­land Cove’s Bradley Riggs.

Riggs and Bran­don were team­mates for years com­ing up through the Cee­Bees’ sys­tem. Riggs is one year older than his for­mer line­mate.

Ev­ery sec­ond year from squirt to ban­tam, the pair would spend the win­ter set­ting each other up at var­i­ous hockey rinks around the prov­ince. When they reached the mid­get level, Riggs and Har­ris spent the next two years on the same team.

“Bran­don was al­ways the goal scorer on our line. I was the one pass­ing him the puck,” said Riggs. “He was the fi­nesse player and he could carry the puck like no one else on our team.”

Many team­mates in the days since the ac­ci­dent have called Bran­don a leader. He never spoke much in the dress­ing room, un­less he was re­ally fired up, but he showed it on the ice.

“(Bran­don) was one of those quiet lead­ers,” said Riggs. “You never went into the cor­ners alone, he was al­ways there to support you. He led

With just four games re­main­ing in the New­found­land and Labrador Ma­jor Mid­get Hockey League reg­u­lar sea­son, one thing is be­com­ing ap­par­ent with the Tri Pen Os­prey (17-11).

The team can score. Through 28 games, the Os­prey have found the back of their op­po­nent’s net 121 times.

That puts them tops in the fiveteam league and 18 goals ahead of the St. John’s Maple Leafs, who have 109 goals in their favour.

At their cur­rent pace, the team could reg­is­ter 147 goals on the sea­son. That would dou­ble the to­tal they pro­duced as a team last sea­son.

“Scor­ing punch has not been an is­sue,” said coach Scott Ak­er­man.

Of­fen­sive fire­power and the abil­ity to put the puck in the net mean a cou­ple of things. For starters, it means you’re never out of a game and gen­er­ally, when your team gets in a shootout, you’ll come out on top.

But, hockey is played at both ends and that is where the coach would like to see them im­prove ahead of the play­offs.

“We have to cut down on goals,” said Ak­er­man.

The Os­prey have yielded a third­worst 95 goals against this sea­son. For the team, the thought process has to be de­fence first. They know

by his play on the ice.”

A big fam­ily

In the world of sports, once you’ve made a team, you’re part of a fam­ily. Each one of your team­mates be­comes a sib­ling of sorts. They be­come the peo­ple you would want to share a fox­hole with above ev­ery­one else.

By all ac­counts, Bran­don was that per­son. In the hours fol­low­ing his sud­den pass­ing, team­mates and op­po­nents took to so­cial me­dia to sing his praises.

“(Bran­don) was very com­pet­i­tive and re­spect­ful,” said Tri Pen Os­prey coach Scott Ak­er­man, who coached Bran­don at the AAA level. Ak­er­man said Bran­don was a quiet kid in the dress­ing room, but showed his com­pet­i­tive spirit on the ice.

Play­ers from the ma­jor mid­get Tri Pen Os­prey re­cently wore a sticker on their hel­mets to hon­our Bran­don. It was a black and gold rib­bon with a large No. 7 in the mid­dle. It was his num­ber on the ice and a small ges­ture of support for their fallen team­mate.

Many cur­rent play­ers with the Os­prey were AAA team­mates with Bran­don. They chose to pay trib­ute to him at a re­cent tour­na­ment in Lewis­porte.

“(Bran­don) was a fam­ily mem­ber who is and al­ways will be a part of this,” said Ak­er­man. “We had play­ers and of­fi­cials com­ing up to us of­fer­ing con­do­lences and ask­ing ques­tions.

“It was un­be­liev­able how many peo­ple he touched.” can roll out to high-pow­ered lines and support them with another two that might not score as much but are just as big a threat.

For ev­i­dence of this, look no fur­ther than a re­cent se­ries with the St. John’s Pri­va­teers. It was the third and fourth lines that sparked Tri Pen’s three-goal come­back in the sec­ond game.

“We are more than a two-line team,” said Ak­er­man.

That much is true, but it helps when a team can at­tack their op­po­nent with a pair that is a threat ev­ery time they touch the puck.

The line of Conal McNa­mara, Nathaniel Duf­fett and Ethan Street has com­bined for an im­pres­sive 77 points. Aug­ment­ing that scor­ing out­put is the line of Ryan Daw­son, Lyn­don Thorne and Cameron Simms.

That trio has 87 points. All of this, cou­pled with six more play­ers with at least a dozen points, makes the Os­prey a tough team to cover.

“It is a nice card for a coach to play,” said Ak­er­man.

De­fen­sive tru­cu­lence

Whi l e they may not be t he flashiest bunch with the puck, the Os­prey de­fence­man bring their lunch pail and hard hat to work ev­ery game ac­cord­ing to Ak­er­man.

File photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Si­b­ley’s Cove’s Bran­don Har­ris was trag­i­cally killed in a au­to­mo­bile ac­ci­dent on Dec. 17. He was 17. Har­ris is shown here com­pet­ing at the 2013 Blue­berry Har­vest Run in Har­bour Grace.

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