Pass­ing the puck

Port aux Basques Mariners play­ers have stepped into coach­ing roles for lo­cal mi­nor hockey groups

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Sports - BY ROS­ALYN ROY

Some of the par­tic­i­pants line up long be­fore the Zam­boni fin­ishes smooth­ing the ice at the Bruce II Sports Com­plex on Sun­day af­ter­noon, Jan. 6.

These in­ter­me­di­ate skaters are wait­ing for their chance to step onto the ice and learn from their coaches, some of who play for the Port aux Basques Mariners. The team is cur­rently sit­ting atop the West Coast Se­nior Hockey League with a 6-1 record.

This af­ter­noon three Mariners play­ers — Paul Barter, Brent Sea­ward and Rob Par­sons — are on hand to guide the next gen­er­a­tion of skaters.

Barter is cur­rently the head coach of the ini­ti­a­tion group. This is his third year coach­ing lo­cal mi­nor hockey.

“I love the coach­ing, and love the teach­ing, and you know… put back into the game what fun I got out of the game,” he says, a sen­ti­ment his fel­low coaches also share.

Barter’s re­turn to coach­ing was prompted by his son’s com­ing of age and in­ter­est in the sport. This year Barter also signed on to play de­fense for the Mariners.

“I al­ways played for­ward grow­ing up,” he laughs. “It’s quite nice to be back, in front of the home­town crowd.”

It’s Barter’s first time back to play­ing con­tact se­nior hockey in 25 years. He has strong roots in hockey, hav­ing left home at 16 to play hockey in Nova Sco­tia and On­tario.

Barter says his new po­si­tion has meant some ad­just­ments and some learn­ing. He watches more video and asks a lot more ques­tions, and in that re­gard is sim­i­lar to some of the young play­ers he is coach­ing.

“Def­i­nitely a lot of the stuff is trans­fer­able,” says Barter, who tries in turn to im­part skills he’s learned to his skaters. “Go­ing through the sys­tem, you hope what other good vol­un­teers have taught you and good coaches have taught you, that you want to teach those skills to these kids.

“Skat­ing is such an im­por­tant part at the ini­ti­a­tion level, and that’s where all the fo­cus goes. Much of prac­tice that goes on is in skat­ing. As kids learn to skate, then puck con­trol and all that stuff be­comes sec­ondary.”

Brent Sea­ward coaches novice hockey and, like Barter, is in his first year play­ing as a de­fense­man for the Mariners. Be­fore that he was a ref­eree, but prompted by his chil­dren’s de­sire to see him play, he de­cided to sign on to the home team.

“It’s nice that the kids can kind of watch you play and then they lis­ten to what you’re say­ing a bit more,” be­lieves Sea­ward. “I guess you’re telling them to work hard and do these things in prac­tice and try their best, and you know if

they see you out there play­ing hockey and work­ing hard then

they kind of feed off of that.”

“I love the coach­ing, and love the teach­ing, and you know… put back into the game what fun I got out of the game.”

Paul Barter

Sea­ward has a long ten­ure as a coach, and has even coached the Ju­nior Mariners in the past. Five years ago, when his daugh­ter joined hockey, he stepped back into a coach­ing role.

“It’s fun. It’s nice to see the kids get bet­ter. It’s nice to have fun with them and laugh,” says Sea­ward, who en­joys watch­ing the par­tic­i­pants progress through the mi­nor hockey pro­gram. “There’s one lit­tle kid that stands out. When he first started he couldn’t skate, he couldn’t do any­thing, and you know here it is, it’s two years later. It’s his sec­ond year and he’s one of the bet­ter play­ers in the group. The im­prove­ment you see is amaz­ing re­ally.”

Rob Par­sons is a for­ward for the Mariners, and like his team­mates has a solid back­ground in coach­ing. Hail­ing orig­i­nally from the North­ern Penin­sula, he set­tled in the re­gion about eight years ago.

“I coached midgets, high school, pee wee first when I came,” re­calls Par­sons, who also coaches the ini­ti­a­tion group.

He says play­ing for the Mariners has so­lid­i­fied Port aux Basques’ rep­u­ta­tion as a hockey town.

“It’s ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic,” he said.

Par­sons also coaches other sports, par­tic­u­larly the se­niors’ boys bas­ket­ball pro­gram at Be­langer Me­mo­rial School where he teaches.

“I found out this year that my favourite part of coach­ing is with the lower age groups, just kind of grass roots stuff, be­cause it was my first time ever coach­ing this age group this year,” he says.

Par­sons is a huge be­liever in that a lot of skills can be trans­ferred be­tween sports, and he notes that the Bruce II Sports Com­plex is a hub that fa­cil­i­tates op­por­tu­ni­ties for young ath­letes who want to ex­plore dif­fer­ent sports.

“One pro­gram that a lot of the kids are par­tic­i­pat­ing in back and forth is here at the arena as well – the CanSkate pro­gram and the fig­ure skat­ing pro­gram, which is a great pro­gram as well,” he said. “I know some of these kids here are also in­volved in the swim­ming as well.”

Whether or not any of the chil­dren in the mi­nor hockey pro­gram will even­tu­ally skate for the Mariners re­mains to be seen, but for now the Mariners play­ers all say they are reap­ing the ben­e­fits that come from tak­ing a place be­hind the bench.

“See­ing those kids when they smile or get a goal… it’s pure en­joy­ment for them. That just makes me happy as a coach and as a dad,” says Barter.

It makes the play­ers happy too ac­cord­ing to Krista Reid, pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer for Port aux Basques Mi­nor Hockey.

“At the be­gin­ning of the year, the ban­tam divi­sion was in dan­ger of fold­ing due to low num­bers and no coach­ing staff,” notes Reid.

Mariners play­ers Steve Lomond and Dar­ren Dean stepped for­ward as vol­un­teer coaches.

“Steve said he wouldn’t see the kids lose their hockey,” says Reid. “The kids love Steve and Dar­ren and are very grate­ful for their coach­ing. The par­ents feel the same.”

Coaches, play­ers and par­ents will cel­e­brate dur­ing Mi­nor Hockey Week, set to take place Jan. 12-19.

J. R. ROY — SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

Mariners de­fender Brent Sea­ward says, “Hockey is alive and well in Port aux Basques.”

J. R. ROY — SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

Coach Paul Barter hud­dles with a group of ini­ti­a­tion-level skaters be­fore be­gin­ning prac­tice on Sun­day, Jan. 6.

J. R. ROY — SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

Rob Par­sons, a Mariners player who works as a teacher, be­lieves chil­dren can ben­e­fit from par­tic­i­pat­ing in more than one sport.

J. R. ROY — SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

Seth Cook is among the first of the play­ers to line up for prac­tice on Jan. 6.

J. R. ROY — SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

Jesse Mac­Don­ald takes a small tum­ble on the ice dur­ing the in­ter­me­di­ate prac­tice.

J. R. ROY — SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

Coach Paul Barter helps a player out with a mi­nor skate is­sue.

J. R. ROY — SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

Caleb Hardy (left) and Seth Cook en­joy a chat be­fore prac­tice be­gins.

J. R. ROY — SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

From left, Adele In­gram, Ka­ley Grant, and Sarah Mac­Don­ald wait for prac­tice to get un­der­way.

J. R. ROY — SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

From left, Adele In­gram, Rian Skin­ner and Cooper Grant take some shots at the net be­fore it’s even set up for prac­tice.

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