Win it for Brandon
CeeBees midget A team capture Clarenville tourney title
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.”
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.