As­cen­sion nabs 14th Wes­ley Gosse ti­tle

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

If you saw a mem­ber of the As­cen­sion Col­le­giate Astros coach­ing staff pick­ing the fig­u­ra­tive mon­key of their back last week­end and stomp­ing on it you could hardly blame them.

Be­sides, for the first time in three years, the team brought home the Wes­ley Gosse Me­mo­rial Tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship shield af­ter a 7-4 de­feat of the Queen El­iz­a­beth Pi­o­neers of Fox­trap on Nov. 22 at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts.

It was the school’s 14th ti­tle in the 25year history of the highly re­garded tour­na­ment, but only its first since 2012.

“Af­ter com­ing from last year where O’Donel (High in Mount Pearl) beat us 3-2 in that heartbreaker, it felt like we wouldn’t get one,” said cap­tain Jor­dan Coombs, also a part of the team that was beat by O’Donel in the semi­fi­nals in 2013.

The Wes­ley Gosse means a lit­tle bit more to the Bay Roberts-based high school as it’s named af­ter a for­mer ed­u­ca­tor and coach at the school. Some of the best play­ers pro­duced in the re­gion have played in the tour­na­ment.

“We definitely put that up there with all the other tour­na­ments,” said coach Trevor Dixon. “It’s a good feel­ing to win.”

The Astros jumped out to the early lead, but soon found them­selves down 2-1 af­ter a pair of pow­er­play goals by the Pi­o­neers.

“It was the crash-and-bang guys that got us go­ing,” said Dixon. “They weren’t lay­ing big hits but they were be­ing phys­i­cal and cre­at­ing space.”

From there, As­cen­sion tied up and then went ahead for good as the team got solid goal­tend­ing from Aaron Osbourne and the play­ers brought it home.

Coombs added an empty net goal to seal what was al­ready a no-doubt vic­tory.

“(Aaron) played really well,” said Dixon. “The feel­ing on the bench was, ‘Let’s do this for Aaron now.’ “He’s been there for us all year.”

Sim­i­lar­i­ties The buzz in school lead­ing up to the tour­na­ment was that the stars had aligned for the Astros to take home the Wes Gosse ti­tle. The last time As­cen­sion won the cham­pi­onship the team brought home the Oc­to­ber­fest ti­tle, just as it did this year.

That was enough to con­vince stu­dents that this was the year that the team was go­ing to re­turn the Wes­ley Gosse plaque home.

The fi­nal was played be­fore a ca­pac­ity crowd at the Bay Arena and the coach­ing staff sees it as a good op­por­tu­nity to get used to play­ing in front of big crowds and the pres­sure that comes with it.

Any road to the provin­cial cham­pi­onship runs through O’Donel and the Mount Pearl Glacier. That means get­ting used to play­ing against a team in their own rink with their fans.

“There will be a lot of pres­sure there,” said Dixon. “Sun­day, we had a lot of fans and the air horns go­ing, so it changes the at­mos­phere. Some­times play­ers tend to grip their sticks a bit tighter in sit­u­a­tions like that, so to have one be­hind you re­laxes the team go­ing into big games from here on out.”

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

As­cen­sion Col­le­giate for­ward Jor­dan Coombs moves the puck dur­ing a Wes­ley Gosse round robin game with Prince of Wales Col­le­giate on Nov. 20.

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