Ascension nabs 14th Wesley Gosse title
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.”
Ascension Collegiate forward Jordan Coombs moves the puck during a Wesley Gosse round robin game with Prince of Wales Collegiate on Nov. 20.