TOP SPORTS STO­RIES OF 2016

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER TC ME­DIA

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.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

The Moor­frost CBN Ju­nior Stars cap­tured the St. John’s Ju­nior Hockey League ti­tle in 2016.

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

The Con­cep­tion Bay North re­gion lost a ma­jor be­hind-the-scenes player in 2016 with the death of Dick Power.

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/TC ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

A project that was years in the making, the new Danny Cleary Com­mu­nity Cen­tre fi­nally opened in Har­bour Grace in Septem­ber.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Fa­tima Academy had a great 2016.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

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.

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