CeeBees re­flect on Herder win

Con­tentious call on game-win­ning goal doesn’t put a damper on CeeBee Stars’ ex­cite­ment fol­low­ing Game 5 win

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBINSON edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

It didn’t come eas­ily and not without con­sid­er­ably con­tro­versy, but the Har­bour Grace Ocean En­ter­prises CeeBees Stars went nose-to-nose against the Clarenville Car­bi­ous and proved the top team in the Avalon East league shouldn’t be taken lightly. The CeeBees Herder vic­tory this month is the ninth for a se­nior hockey club from Har­bour Grace.

Three years ago, four teams from the for­mer New­found­land Se­nior Hockey League left the CeeBee Stars on the out­side look­ing in, form­ing a new league and leav­ing the CeeBees with nowhere to play.

Har­bour Grace went a full sea­son without host­ing any se­nior hockey games. When the CeeBee Stars re­turned to the Avalon East Se­nior Hockey League in 2015, the team found it­self in hard shape, win­ning a mere three games in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

How those for­tunes have changed. Fol­low­ing a week­end of in­tense hockey, the Har­bour Grace Ocean En­ter­prises CeeBee Stars are back at the top of the heap in pro­vin­cial se­nior hockey ranks. The team won its first Herder Memo­rial ti­tle since 2013 on Sun­day April 2, de­feat­ing the Clarenville Cari­bous 4-3. It’s the ninth time a se­nior hockey team from Har­bour Grace has won the tro­phy.

“To do it in year two is amaz­ing,” coach Ian Moores told The Com­pass last Mon­day, not­ing the team started in 2015 with a five-year plan to con­tend for the Herder.

Moores and Peter Ge­orge were both on the coach­ing staff in 2013 when the CeeBees last won the Herder and were be­hind the bench last sea­son as the team found it­self in re­build mode.

Moores won his first Herder as a player with the Fla­trock Fly­ers in 2003 be­fore win­ning three more as a player with the CeeBees and two as a coach.

“This vic­tory is very spe­cial due to the fact that we were such un­der­dogs. As a mat­ter of fact, we didn’t even reach un­der­dog sta­tus. It was more like show up and get beaten three straight games by the semi-pro Cari­bous and hand them the tro­phy,” Moores said.

“It ranks as the ab­so­lute best for me,” Ge­orge said last Mon­day. “What we went through last year and the re­build of the or­ga­ni­za­tion and get­ting back into an Avalon East league and chang­ing our poli­cies, it was a to­tal re­build. And then to do what no­body thought we could ac­com­plish this year — for me it’s the best one so far.”

Con­tro­ver­sial fin­ish

Sun­day’s win didn’t come without some con­tro­versy. The win­ning goal came off Kenny King’s stick, but play­ers from the Cari­bous im­me­di­ately dis­puted the goal, claim­ing it went un­der the net. Footage of the play cap­tured by NTV re­porter Ryan Hard­ing ap­peared to con­firm the goal shouldn’t have counted.

“Yes, I’ve seen the video and un­for­tu­nately, peo­ple are up­set,” Moores said when asked about the play. “But ref­er­ees are only hu­man — and make mis­takes. Also, there is no video re­view in am­a­teur se­nior hockey and there were no goal judges, so ev­ery­one has to live with the call that was made on the ice and ac­cept the out­come.”

Ge­orge, who has not watched the video, ini­tially thought it hit Churchill and went in.

“Those are things you can’t con­trol as a team,” he said. “For us, the puck went in the net. It was called a good goal. We won the Herder. Think­ing about it any other way for us I don’t think will do us fair jus­tice, be­cause of how hard we worked and truly de­served this … I don’t think any­one can take it away from us.”

Ac­cord­ing to TC Me­dia’s The Packet, the team has filed an of­fi­cial protest with Hockey NL about the re­sult of Game 5. Hockey NL re­leased a state­ment last Tues­day that said protests can­not be made when it comes “to the judge­ment of a ref­eree or of­fi­cial.”

Big con­trib­u­tors

Ahead of the 2016-17 sea­son, things were gen­er­ally look­ing up for the CeeBees. For­mer cap­tain Matthew Thomey found him­self re­turn­ing to the team af­ter ac­cept­ing a job closer to his home­town of Har­bour Grace. The team also picked up tal­ented de­fence­man Sam Roberts, a vet­eran who has played in pro­fes­sional leagues.

But per­haps the big­gest pickup of all was goal­tender A.J. Whif­fen. His steady pres­ence in goal did not go un­no­ticed, as he claimed MVP hon­ours in both the Avalon East play­offs and the Herder fi­nal.

In Game 4, the Cari­bous and CeeBees were dead­locked in a score­less draw. If the Cari­bous scored, it would have been all over. It wasn’t un­til the sec­ond over­time pe­riod that Brett Shute scored to end it, and Whif­fen fin­ished the night with a 57-save shutout.

“Ob­vi­ously we had strong goal­tend­ing, a strong de­fence, and we got timely goals when we needed them,” said Ge­orge.

“A.J. was the MVP of the se­ries for a rea­son,” added Moores, who con­sid­ers Whif­fen the best goal­tender on the is­land.

For Ge­orge, the big turn­ing point was the Game 2 win on home ice in Har­bour Grace. He said it gave the team con­fi­dence and proved the CeeBees could play with a team from the Cen­tral West league.

The CeeBees gained some help af­ter the Avalon East se­ries, pick­ing up six strength­en­ing play­ers — Shane Boland, Ray Dal­ton, Daniel Dal­ton and Jeremy Nicholas from the South­ern Shore Break­ers and Daniel Cadi­gan and Jeremy Ka­vanagh from the North­east Ea­gles.

“We couldn’t have picked six bet­ter play­ers to try and help us win the Herder,” said Moores. “They are true lead­ers and we are ex­tremely grate­ful that they came on­board.”

Tough op­po­nent

Both coaches gave full credit to the Cari­bous for their ef­fort in a se­ries that was closely con­tested through­out.

“The Cari­bous are such a skilled team,” said Ge­orge. “Some­times you get caught, just my­self as a coach, watch­ing their skill and how good they are. I’m sure they were frus­trated at some point in the game, un­able to score on A.J., who just played fantastic … They pushed us right to the limit, ob­vi­ously, and we were very lucky to stick with it and bat­tle against them and ride out some of the storms that they threw at us.”

Moores ul­ti­mately cred­its all in­volved in the CeeBees or­ga­ni­za­tion for mak­ing this sea­son a suc­cess­ful one — from the play­ers and team ex­ec­u­tives all the way down to the bench staff and ded­i­cated vol­un­teers.

While there are no de­tails set in stone, fans should get ready for a pub­lic cel­e­bra­tion in Har­bour Grace in the not too dis­tant fu­ture.

“We’ll cer­tainly be tak­ing the Herder back (to Har­bour Grace) and hav­ing a nice lit­tle mo­tor­cade at a nice time for all of our fans, for sure,” said Ge­orge.


Mem­bers of the Har­bour Grace Ocean En­ter­prises CeeBee Stars gather around the Herder Memo­rial Tro­phy fol­low­ing a 4-3 vic­tory in Game 5 Sun­day, April 2.


The mo­ments lead­ing up to Kenny King’s con­tro­ver­sial game-win­ning goal in Game 5. Video footage of the play ap­peared to show the puck slid­ing un­der the back of the net.


Herder MVP A.J. Whif­fen raises his arms in goal as the buzzer sounds to end Game 5.


CeeBee Stars as­sis­tant cap­tain and Har­bour Grace na­tive Matthew Thomey raises the Herder Memo­rial Tro­phy above his head as his team­mate cheer on in the back­ground. This is the first Herder win for the vet­eran CeeBee.

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