Win it for Bran­don

CeeBees mid­get A team cap­ture Clarenville tour­ney ti­tle

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

Your team­mates are fam­ily. They be­come sur­ro­gate broth­ers and sis­ters and your coach is the de­facto fa­ther fig­ure. Over a the course of a sea­son or two, this new fam­ily shares road trips, heart­breaks and cel­e­bra­tions and grows to­gether.

When you lose one of your team­mates it can tear a hole in your soul. Sud­denly the game is not the same. It takes on a dif­fer­ent mean­ing — you’re not only play­ing to win, but you’re play­ing to re­mem­ber.

That’s why mem­bers of the CeeBees mi­nor mid­get A team must have felt like they had an ex­tra team­mate on the ice at a re­cent tour­na­ment in Clarenville.

The team has been car­ry­ing the mem­ory of the late Bran­don Har­ris with them since his tragic death late last year. Mem­bers of the team take turns en­sur­ing his No. 6 CeeBees’ jer­sey hangs from the bench at ev­ery home prac­tice and trav­els to ev­ery game.

“The play­ers don’t want Bran­don’s mem­ory to leave,” said coach Brian Dono­van. “It was very emo­tional.”

That’s why the jer­sey was hang­ing be­hind CeeBees’ bench as the team bat­tled the Pla­cen­tia Li­ons in the fi­nals of the tour­na­ment held at the Eastlink Events Cen­tre Feb. 13-14.

“Noth­ing was more im­por­tant than win­ning for Bran­don,” said Dono­van. “There was noth­ing stop­ping them that week­end.”

Un­de­feated in their pre­vi­ous two games, the team bore down in the de­cid­ing game. Although they were miss­ing some key play­ers, in­clud­ing Canada Games goal­tender Kelsey Shute, they led 2-1 head­ing into the third pe­riod.

“It was very emo­tional. As a coach, I try to teach my team how to deal with ad­ver­sity, but there was no pre­par­ing them for what they had to go through on Dec. 17, ” re­calls Dono­van. “I’ve told them that be­fore ev­ery game and be­fore the third we said, ‘ Boys, you’ve won eight pe­ri­ods of hockey so far, go out and win the ninth for Bran­don.’”

Us­ing that as in­spi­ra­tion, the CeeBees scored three times in the third to de­feated Pla­cen­tia 51 and claim the gold medal. It was their first tour­na­ment win since Bran­don’s pass­ing.

Ev­ery­thing was done in his hon­our. From car­ry­ing Bran­don’s jer­sey around the ice like a cham­pi­onship ban­ner to sign­ing the rib­bon of his medal, it was all done with their fallen com­rade in mind.

The plan is to present the medal to Bran­don’s fam­ily.

He was a leader, team­mate and a friend to all of the play­ers on the CeeBees’ ros­ter. The CeeBees are us­ing his mem­ory to fuel ev­ery­thing they do.

When they prac­tice, his mem­ory helps them push through that last set of long lines. When they play, he’s skat­ing along­side them wait­ing for a one-timer pass.

The CeeBees’ are host­ing the mid­get D di­vi­sion pro­vin­cial tour­na­ment April 6-8 at the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace. It’ll have a spe­cial mean­ing.

“You can feel him in the rink. There is noth­ing more im­por­tant,” said Dono­van. “This is a trib­ute and a farewell sea­son.

“Win or lose, we’ll re­mem­ber.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

The CeeBees mi­nor mid­get A team paid spe­cial trib­ute to fallen team­mate Bran­don Har­ris dur­ing its tour­na­ment win at the Eastlink Events Cen­tre in Clarenville Feb. 13-15. Play­ers can be seen hold­ing his num­ber six jer­sey in this team photo. Mem­bers of the team are: front (l-r) — Josh Rodgers, Noah Dono­van, Daniel Cur­ran, Jor­dan Coombs, Devon Groves, Mark Ryan and Zach Ped­dle; back — coach Brian Dono­van, Daniel Slade, Matthew Hoyles, Ryan Slade, Ed­die Donnelly, Ryon Wil­liams, coach David Coombs, Con­nor Par­sons, Michael Han­cock, Kaiden Clarke, coach Rick Slade and coach Trevor Wil­liams. Miss­ing from photo is Kelsey Shute.

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