Noth­ing sweeter than a home-ice win

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

Teams win­ning pro­vin­cial tour­na­ments all look the same.

The goal­tender dog pile as the buzzer sounds more like a cham­pi­onship call than a shrill eardrum buz­z­saw, and there are hollers be­tween team­mates, hugs and cel­e­bra­tory high-fives.

You can’t for­get the duck-oryou’ll-get-drilled-in-the-head prac­tice of throw­ing ev­ery piece of equip­ment a player has into the air and hop­ing it doesn’t land on some­one.

There’s the hoist­ing of the tro­phy and the team pic­ture with the pro­vin­cial ban­ner — all of it a cookie cut­ter re­sponse to reach­ing the pin­na­cle of your sport for the year.

They’re all the same, save for one ex­cep­tion. When a team wins it all on home ice, the feel­ing gets a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent.

It tastes sweeter and the cel­e­bra­tion is a lit­tle more in­tense.

Just ask the Bay Arena midget B Rovers. Last week, they hosted the midget I divi­sion pro­vin­cial tour­ney fea­tur­ing teams from Labrador West, Goulds, She­shat­shiu and Pla­cen­tia.

Faced with a tough She­shat­shiu team in the cham­pi­onship game, the Rovers needed dou­ble over­time to set­tle things.

Af­ter trad­ing chances in the open­ing mo­ments of the fifth pe­riod, Bay Arena for­ward Tye Reyna-Clarke mor­phed a turnover into the golden goal for the Rovers. Pick­ing up a loose puck just above the far cir­cle, the diminu­tive cen­tre­man lofted a shot at the She­shat­shiu goal.

It found its way into the back of the net and the Rovers won 21. The Bay Arena ex­ploded as play­ers swarmed the over­time hero and each other.

Rink at­ten­dants banged on the glass near the ice resur­facer en­trance and par­ents put the ham­mer down on horns, cow­bells and other noise­mak­ers. It was hys­te­ria at its finest.

“I got the puck and I was think­ing shoot,” said Rey­naClarke. “I watched the puck leave my stick and hit the back of the net. I couldn’t be­lieve it. I turned around and I just got tack­led by the team.”

At that mo­ment, any nerves that were felt from play­ing at home washed away.

“It’s a dif­fer­ent feel­ing at home,” said Reyna-Clarke. “It’s my first ban­ner and I wanted to win it in front of ev­ery­body.”

That ev­ery­body be­ing fam­ily and friends, of course.

The vic­tory meant a lit­tle more to Rovers cap­tain Darcy O’Reilly. He felt the nerves at home and wanted to put on a good show for the lo­cal fans.

He also wanted to get over the cham­pi­onship hump. Last year, O’Reilly’s midget B team fell short in the cham­pi­onship game.

His team­mate from then, Lu­cas Percey, was a coach now.

“Last year we lost in the cham­pi­onship 2-1 and it felt like a bit of redemp­tion be­cause Percey is here and he played last year,” said O’Reilly.

Win­ning on home ice is some­thing else. There re­ally is no way to de­scribe the feel­ing ac­cord­ing to play­ers.

“It was un­be­liev­able to win it here,” said O’Reilly. “We were all go­ing off the head.”

It was un­be­liev­able to win it here. We were all go­ing off the head. Darcy O’Reilly

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Bay Arena midget B Rovers cap­tain Darcy O’Reilly and his team­mates cel­e­brated a pro­vin­cial ban­ner on home ice last week.

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