TOP SPORTS STORIES OF 2016
Before he left us to move on to an exciting opportunity in Western Newfoundland, Nicholas Mercer compiled a list of what he considered to be the top-five sports stories of 2016 as told in The Compass. There were some exciting developments, moments of loss, and some close calls to recount.
There’s never a dull moment when it comes to sports and this little corner of the province.
The Trinity-Conception-Placentia region has a strong history of producing formidable athletes and teams in every sport and 2016 was no different.
There were the 2016 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games held in CBS where a number of local athletes made their presence known through baseball, soccer, golf and other disciplines.
That’s not to mention the number of schools that produced plenty of provincial champions in hockey, softball and soccer.
We saw the opening of a new facility in Harbour Grace that has injected some electricity into the local sports scene and the resurgence of the HGOE CeeBee Stars in the early goings of their second return season in the Avalon East Senior Hockey League.
A number of young athletes took steps to improve their games by moving to the next level on the mainland.
There were some somber moments as well. The sporting world said goodbye to the venerable S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium and the loss of local coaching legend Dick Power puts a dark spot on the year.
All-in-all we saw a number of significant sports stories take shape that highlighted many of our local athletes. It makes the decision to cut down the top-5 stories for the year difficult.
Without prolonging this too long, here are the top sports stories of 2016.
1. CBN Junior Stars make improbable run to league title The CBN Junior Stars beat the odds to become the 2016 St. John’s Junior Hockey League champions. The CBR Renegades technically eliminated the team in the first round until an appeal of a forfeited game gave them a second life in their playoff run. They downed CBR in the first round, defeated the Trinity Conception Junior Flyers in the semifinals before meeting the Avalon Capitals in the final round.
Even then, the Junior Stars fell behind three games to one before winning four straight including a Game 7 in the Goulds. The win marked the first title for CBN in almost a decade and capped an unbelievable post season run.
2. Region says goodbye to a legendary coach Dick Power came to Harbour Grace as a player-coach with the senior CeeBees in the 1960s. When his playing days were over, he made the town his permanent home and became the manager of the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium. During his decades at the helm of the venerable arena, Power became a driving force behind minor hockey in the region. He helped produced a plethora of top-notch athletes, while keeping a close eye on their schoolwork and how they interacted with people.
Power became a legend in the coaching ranks and around the region. He died in July.
3. Harbour Grace opens new stadium After years of development and construction, Harbour Grace finally opened the doors on its new facility — the Danny Cleary Community Centre. Of course, that meant the closure of the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium, but the local sporting community met the move with open arms. With its professional sized ice surface and clean aesthetic, along with all of the bells and whistles, it’s quickly becoming the high profile athletic destination it was meant to be.
4. Bay Roberts dodges tragedy in arena fire Just before the calendar turned to 2016, the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts was lucky to escape an early morning electrical fire with just a burned out panel. What makes it one of 2016’s top stories of the year is the affect the fire had on minor hockey and figure skating in the New Year and how it brought associations together. Athletes were forced to find ice time in nearby Harbour Grace, Whitbourne and Placentia.
It also prompted the town to take over the daily operation of the facility.
5. Fatima wins provincial title, finishes as top eight team The tiny Placentia Bay school of Fatima Academy, located in Branch, has a rich history in the sport of basketball, but even they couldn’t have predicted the run they took last season.
The team dominated the local scene and forced their way into the conversation as one of the top male programs in the province. They moved up two spots in School Sport NL rankings, as well as found themselves included in the Hall of Fame Cup, which is an annual showdown between the top-eight male and female teams on the island.
In the end, they finished their year with an AAA provincial title.
The Moorfrost CBN Junior Stars captured the St. John’s Junior Hockey League title in 2016.
The Conception Bay North region lost a major behind-the-scenes player in 2016 with the death of Dick Power.
A project that was years in the making, the new Danny Cleary Community Centre finally opened in Harbour Grace in September.
Fatima Academy had a great 2016.
An electrical fire at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts forced local hockey teams and figure skaters to make alternate arrangements for the first few weeks of 2016.