That fa­mil­iar feel­ing

Ju­nior Stars trio know a thing or two about win­ning ti­tles

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

The fi­nal game of the St. John’s Ju­nior Hockey League cham­pi­onship se­ries had a fa­mil­iar feel for a trio of young play­ers from the CBN Ju­nior Stars.

Up 4-0 as the clock ticked to­wards the fi­nal buzzer, midgetaged play­ers Mark Barrett, Cameron Simms and Ryan Pet­ten were on the verge of win­ning the first league ti­tle for the Stars in a decade.

They were play­ing on the same line and were vy­ing for a ti­tle. Yeah, this felt fa­mil­iar.

It was just the lat­est in a rich his­tory of hockey be­tween the life­long friends.

“It was pretty cool us play­ing on a line for the last three games of the se­ries,” said Simms, a 16-year-old from Co­ley’s Point. “The chem­istry was there in­stantly.”

“We just wanted to take it one shift at a time,” added Barrett, 17, from Spa­niard’s Bay, of their job in the game.

They wanted to play a sound de­fen­sive game, keep the Avalon Cap­i­tals at bay be­fore let­ting the Stars’ of­fen­sive big guns take over.

As the fi­nal sec­onds of the game slipped away, the trio gave a cou­ple of quick glances to each other. They’d been here be­fore.

“Those last cou­ple of min­utes were the long­est of my life,” said 16-year-old Pet­ten of Clarke’s Beach.

“It was a race to see who could take their gloves and hel­met off first,” added Simms A long his­tory

Aside from the ju­nior cham­pi­onship, the trio has been in­te­gral parts to each other’s hockey suc­cess for as long as they can re­mem­ber.

They’ve won mi­nor hockey ban­ners to­gether, high school tour­na­ments and been a part of some for­mi­da­ble teams out of the Bay Arena mi­nor hockey sys­tem in Bay Roberts.

Barrett and Simms were a part of Team NL at the 2015 Canada Win­ter Games in B.C.,

while the three of them par­tic­i­pated in the QMJHL Ga­torade Chal­lenge as mem­bers of the New­found­land and Labrador con­tin­gent.

Of all that, they say the ju­nior ti­tles ranks at the top of the list along­side the Joe La­mon­tagne Me­mo­rial tour­na­ment they won a cou­ple of years ago in Cole Har­bour, N.S. Fit­ting in

There was some worry about fit­ting into a locker room filled with older play­ers. There were some they’d played with as mem­bers of the Tri Pen Osprey a year ago, but oth­ers they had no ex­pe­ri­ence with.

Each said they were ac­cepted as one of the guys al­most im­me­di­ately.

“They did a lot to make you feel wel­come,” said Pet­ten.

Be­ing the — very — young guys in the room gave the trio a de­sire to prove them­selves ev­ery night. The old­est play­ers on the team are 22-years-old.

“There was dou­ble the pres­sure be­cause we were so young,” said Barrett.

In 10 games, Pet­ten reg­is­tered one goal and one as­sist. Simms had one goal and two as­sists in 14 con­tests. Mean­while, Barrett had four goals and 11 as­sists in 17 games.

That doesn’t take into ac­count the at­ten­tion paid to them by op­pos­ing play­ers.

Be­ing mid­get-aged they’re still re­quired to wear a full face­mask, whereas their ju­nior coun­ter­parts can go with the half vi­sor.

That dif­fer­ence led to a bit of trash talk.

“You get a lot of ‘go take your

bird cage off’ and other things like that,” said Barrett. Plenty of cham­pi­onships

The ju­nior vic­tory rep­re­sents ti­tle num­ber four for the trio. With the As­cen­sion Astros, they were a part of a team that brought home the Wes­ley Gosse Me­mo­rial Tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship, an Ok­to­ber­fest tour­na­ment ti­tle and the pro­vin­cial high school ban­ner.

The last one is ex­ceed­ingly rare con­sid­er­ing ath­letes don’t usu­ally get a reg­u­lar shift with a ju­nior B team un­til they’ve grad­u­ated from mi­nor hockey.

It’s an ac­com­plish­ment that isn’t lost on the young ath­letes.

“That’s a pretty cool part of it,” said Barrett. “I don’t think that’s ever been done be­fore.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Mid­get-aged play­ers (from left)Mark Barrett, Ryan Pet­ten and Cameron Simms were a part of the CBN Ju­nior Stars St. John’s Ju­nior Hockey League cham­pi­onship vic­tory last week.

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