Cats keep Herder at home

By Randy Edison, The Advertiser
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Published on March 08, 2015

Andre Gill signs a jersey for young fan Drew Whalen during on ice celebrations following the Cataracts Herder victory.

Published on March 08, 2015

Cats’ defenceman Rudi Short watches as netminder AJ Whiffen makes one of his 49 saves during game four of the Herder Trophy finals Sunday in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Published on March 08, 2015

Cats’ defenceman Greg Hoffe, left, tries to clear Royals’ forward Brandon Nicholas from in front of netminder AJ Whiffen during game four of the Herder Trophy finals Sunday in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Published on March 08, 2015

Royals’ forward Brandon Nicholas tries to find an opening on Cats’ netminder AJ Whiffen during game four of the Herder Trophy finals Sunday in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Published on March 08, 2015

Cats’ netminder AJ Whiffen stays calm under pressure as Royals’ forward Ryan Penney closes in looking for a loose puck during game four of the Herder Trophy finals Sunday in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Published on March 08, 2015

Royals’ netminder Bryan Gillis, despite making 63 saves, couldn’t hide his disappointment when shot 66 found the back of the net to give the Cats the decisive goal in its 3-2 overtime victory. The win also gave the Cats a four-game sweep of the Royals and its back-to-back Herder Trophy championships.

Published on March 08, 2015

Cam Fergus celebrated with several Cats’ teammates after potting the Herder Trophy-winning goal in overtime against the Royals on Sunday.

Published on March 08, 2015

It was an epic battle between Cats’ netminder AJ Whiffen, left, and Royals’ goaltender Bryan Gillis, as the goalies combine for 112 saves Sunday. The combatants congratulated each other following the contest.

Published on March 08, 2015

Taking part in the Herder Trophy presentation were: (from left) Cats’ assistant captain Luke Gallant, HNL representative Jared Butler, HNL representative Gary Gale, HNL representative Murray Roberts, tc• Media representative Kitty Dean, Cats’ captain Mike Brent, Cats’ assistant captain Sam Hounsell, and Cats’ assistant captain Cam Fergus.

Published on March 08, 2015

Cats’ netminder AJ Whiffen celebrates with the Herder Trophy.

Winning at home is special says Gill

He’s now been a part of four finals and three Herder Memorial Trophy wins in six years as a member of the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts, but “winning never gets old,” says Andre Gill after raising the province’s top senior hockey prize again at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium this afternoon.

“It’s awesome to win this at home,” said the Botwood native in between autographing jerseys for young fans during the on-ice celebration.

“We have three Botwood boys here playing together and that helps make it special,” he told the Advertiser. “The locals around here love the hockey, and I always like winning at home in front of them.”

The Cats edged the Corner Brook Royals on a goal from the slot by Cam Fergus with 5:31 left to play in overtime to claim their second straight title.

Fergus, who was named the winner of the Cliff Gorman Memorial Award as the playoff most valuable player said scoring this championship winner is “way up there” on his list of thrills as a hockey player.

“I’ve been part of lots of championships (including one last year with the Cataracts) but this is my first real championship goal … it’s pretty awesome.”

The win is particularly sweet with this team, he noted.

“We’ve got a special group of players here, especially when you think that we only get to come together on the weekends.”

The Cataracts franchise may be approaching dynasty status with today’s Herder win making it two in a row and three wins in the last five.  

The victory makes it 13 in total for Grand Falls-Windsor including the Andcos who won five from 1955-59.

The Herder was first awarded in 1935.


Eight straight


“Wow, who would have thought that?” asked Cats head coach Shane Lukinchuk about the team’s eight straight playoff victories on their way to the championship.

They swept the Clarenville Caribous in their semifinal tilt.

“We made it look easy, but it wasn’t,” he continued. “Every game was a battle and I think we just did the little things a little more consistently than the opposition.”

The experience in the dressing room was key as well, the coach added.

“When we looked around the room we realized that three quarters of the guys in there had been in this position before – not only with a chance to win a championship but also being up in a series like this.

“The fourth win is always the toughest and we leaned on that experience.”

The coach said their ability to roll fourth lines through most of the series was also critical.

“We try and get all the guys involved as much as we can, and that shows in games like this.”

Now it’s on to the Allen Cup playdowns in Clarenville in April to try and add a national championship to the provincial crown.

“We’re going to enjoy this now and try and stay in the moment,” said Lukinchuk “But, the Allen Cup was always in the backs of our minds. At the beginning of the season we wanted to stay playing as long as we could and we’re not done yet.”




The two teams battled through a long scoreless section of today’s game.

Andrew Brennan opened the scoring at 3:21 of the first on an assist from Nick Croft.

Mike Sibley upped the lead to 2-0 with a marker at 7:52 of the first, assisted by Alex Dalley and Chris Sparkes.

Dane Marshall drew the Royals to within one before the end of the first period off an assist from Brandon Nicholas.

Ryan Penney knotted the score at 5:04 of the second, with help from Matthew Thomey.

Andre Gill and Greg Hoffe set up the championship winner by Fergus.

Cataracts goalie AJ Whiffen faced 51 shots while Bryan Gillis of the Royals faced 66.

Check out the next edition of the Advertiser print edition for more photos and reaction to the victory.

Geographic location: Botwood, Clarenville

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Recent comments

  • Hockey Fan
    March 08, 2015 - 21:01

    The Western Royals have to commended for wearing their hearts on their sleeves in today's game. They played an awesome game and should be very proud. Thanks for giving us an amazing season! Looking forward to the next!

    • John Q
      March 09, 2015 - 12:03

      Come on!! "Wearing your heart on you sleeve" Its to bad they could not wear it for the other three games.... This is not about one game in a series. Its about the hole Herder series. The writing was on the wall when they lost the two games in Corner Brook. No heart here.... and for that reason I am out next year.

  • tory but feeling blue
    March 08, 2015 - 19:37

    First of, congrats to the Cats on another Herder. What a power! As a Corner Brook fan, I want to thank the Royals for an amazing year. We were treated to a season of great action. So good to have the team back! Special thanks to Ross and his executive for what they do to keep senior hockey alive! It must be a largely thankless job!

  • derek
    March 08, 2015 - 17:43

    Simply the best, better than all the rest.

    • nothing lasts
      March 09, 2015 - 15:53

      Enjoy while the good time lasts. Other team will eventually knocked your beloved cats out.