Fly­ers fall to ‘Bous

Cari­bous de­feat Fly­ers, to play for Herder Memorial Tro­phy

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front page - BY MATT MOL­LOY SPE­CIAL TO THE BEA­CON

Ma­son Reid broke a 5-5 tie roughly seven min­utes into the third pe­riod and the Clarenville Ford Cari­bous hung on for a 6-5 win over the Kelly Ford Gan­der Fly­ers to cap­ture the Cen­tral West Se­nior Hockey League ti­tle Fri­day night in Gan­der.

It was Ma­son’s se­cond goal of the game and one of the most im­por­tant of his ca­reer. The win sends the Cari­bous to the Herder Memorial Cham­pi­onship to bat­tle ei­ther the South­ern Shore Breakers or St. John’s Cap­i­tals, who are play­ing for the East Coast Se­nior Hockey League ti­tle.

“It feels great,” said Cari­bous’ cap­tain Dustin Rus­sell fol­low­ing the tro­phy pre­sen­ta­tion. “The at­mos­phere here tonight was out­stand­ing and the Gan­der fans re­ally came out to sup­port their team. They have a great young team, and this isn’t the last you’re go­ing to hear of the Gan­der Fly­ers, I can guar­an­tee you that.”

The Fly­ers’ faith­ful were mainly quiet af­ter the first 20 min­utes, when the Cari­bous went into the dress­ing room ahead 3-1 thanks to goals from Ryan Desrosiers, Chad Earle and Reid.

How­ever, a com­pletely dif­fer­ent Fly­ers’ team took to the ice in the se­cond pe­riod, and thanks to goals from Jor­dan Es­cott, Brent Shute and Bran­don Hynes, the game was tied at 4-4 head­ing into the third pe­riod.

Although the Fly­ers were charg­ing, Cari­bous’ head coach Re­becca Rus­sell said there was no panic in her team, and she had faith the game plan would work if ev­ery­body stuck to it.

“That’s one thing about this team. What­ever po­si­tion we are in, we try and turn it into a pos­i­tive one,” she said out­side of the team’s dress­ing room, where the cel­e­bra­tion was al­ready started. “The big thing for us was that we were head­ing into the third pe­riod tied… so if we win that pe­riod, we’re league cham­pi­ons.

“The big­gest thing for me is in­still­ing con­fi­dence in them that what we have planned will work if we just stick to it, and I al­ways tell them, I wouldn’t want to coach any other fel­las than the group we have in that room.”

The at­mos­phere on the other side of the rink was a lit­tle less jovial, but Fly­ers’ head coach Rick Shep­pard was proud of what his young squad was able to ac­com­plish this year.

There was no quit in his team af­ter a tough first pe­riod, and the first-year head coach had noth­ing but pos­i­tive things to say about his team and the ef­fort they gave in the fi­nal and all sea­son long.

“I’m ex­tremely proud of what we did this year,” said Shep­pard. “My ob­jec­tive this year was to get ev­ery­one pointed in the same di­rec­tion. We had a lot of pos­i­tives this year, and as a first-year coach, I didn’t know how I was go­ing to coach to be hon­est with you. When I started, I said, ‘I’m go­ing to be pos­i­tive about this’ …and I was 95 per cent pos­i­tive all year and five per cent neg­a­tive. For me, how can I be dis­ap­pointed with ev­ery­one we ac­com­plished this year?”

One of the big sto­ry­lines com­ing out of Gan­der was the fact the team was lit­tered with tal­ented, young, lo­cal play­ers like Gra­ham Old­ford, Colton Collins, Nick Fitzger­ald, Josh Fitzger­ald and Thomas Hedges, along with vet­eran de­fence­man Ryan Mathe­son, who has been a Flyer since the team re­turned to se­nior hockey.

Shep­pard is fa­mil­iar with those young play­ers and be­lieves with a strong young, lo­cal core, the fu­ture is bright for the Fly­ers.

“I coached those guys for 10 years. Those are my guys, and I don’t care what any­one says,” said Shep­pard. “Our lo­cal play­ers are bet­ter than most lo­cal play­ers, and that’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween last year’s team and this year’s team. We have some great, lo­cal tal­ent, and I think it re­ally brought the veter­ans along a lit­tle bit.”

The Fly­ers cer­tainly have a bright fu­ture, but the time is now for the Cari­bous.

Although the Steele Com­mu­nity Cen­tre was blocked with loud and proud mem­bers of “Fly­ers Na­tion” who urged their young squad on, the Cari­bous’ fans were there in full force, and Rus­sell said that sup­port made a dif­fer­ence in the fi­nal out­come.

“It’s great for the league,” said Rus­sell, who also com­pli­mented the Fly­ers’ fans that trav­elled to Clarenville. “It’s great to see the fam­ily mem­bers that travel with us, and hope­fully this can carry over into next year.”

“The fans are a huge part of it for us,” added the head coach. “To win this in front of the die-hard fans that trav­elled here is heart­warm­ing and makes vic­to­ries like this even bet­ter. The peo­ple that were here tonight have been with us through the thick and thin, and it’s re­ally nice for us to get it done in front of them.”


Thomas Hedges, left, of the Kelly Ford Gan­der Fly­ers, bat­tles Ryan Desrosiers for the puck dur­ing Game 5 in Gan­der on Fri­day night.

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