Most medals stay in Exploits Valley
© Submitted photo
The Exploits B Cataracts didn’t take home the gold, but according to manager Allan Miller, they were pretty pleased with their silver medal in the B division, and their award for the most sportsmanlike team at last weekend’s Bren Fitzgerald Memorial Tournament, which took place in Grand Falls-Windsor.
Teams may have come from across the province - from Conception bay to Stephenville - to compete in the Bren Fitzgerald Memorial Invitational PeeWee tournament, but it was teams from the Exploits region that dominated the ice.
The annual tournament was held in Grand Falls-Windsor last weekend, and saw 14 teams - about 240 young players - across three divisions come to town to compete.
According to Mark Anthony, manager of the Exploits Cataracts A team and one of the tournament's organizers, it is named in memory after a well-known volunteer with the Windsor Minor Hockey Association.
"From what I know, (Bren Fitzgerald) was a tireless volunteer in minor hockey," said Anthony.
All the teams that competed from the Exploits region -three Exploits Cataracts team, a team from Botwood, and a team from Bishop's Falls - placed in their respective divisions.
The Exploits A Cataracts nabbed gold in the A division, the Exploits B team got silver in the B division, and Exploits C was given bronze in the C division. The Botwood Blades snatched silver in C, while Bishop's Falls was given bronze in B.
Anthony said his team worked extremely hard to make it to the top and take home the gold, despite last weekend being their first opportunity to play in a tournament all year.
"The team started off playing Stephenville early in the tournament (last) Friday afternoon and they were a little slow getting started," said Anthony. "They lost their first game, but as the tournament went on, they got a little better."
Their next game was against Deer Lake after the opening ceremonies, which ended in a score of 5-4 for the Exploits A boys.
They then went on to play a team from Conception Bay, beating their opponents 8-4. With two wins and a loss, the hometown team headed to the semifinals.
In the semifinal they were up against Deer Lake again, and once again held their own, winning 4-1.
For the championship game, the Cataracts faced off against undefeated Stephenville, the only team that had given them trouble in round robin.
"They were a much bigger, stronger team," said Anthony.
The Cataracts A boys changed up their game plan, and Anthony said the speed of their smaller players worked to their advantage.
They overtook the larger team with a 6-4 win for the gold medal.
On top of taking home the gold, one of the team's members, Mark Janes, was recognized as the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
Kerry Saunders, peewee director for Botwood Minor Hockey, said his team was proud of their silver medal in the C division. They lost to a team from Gander in the championship game by a score of 5-3.
"It was a close game. Both sides played their hearts out," said Saunders, who added one of the highlights of the tournament for him was being able to give all his players that attended the tournament time on the ice.
"It was a great experience."
Allen Miller is another one of the tournament's organizers, and is also the manager of the Exploits Cataracts B team that was awarded the silver after a hard-fought tournament. They lost to Gander in the gold medal game, but Miller said despite not coming out number one, his team, along with all the teams that came out, had a great time.
His team was also awarded the most sports minded award, which he said was the highlight of the tournament.
"All the players really stepped up this weekend, it's certainly the best they played all year," said Miller. "At the end of the day, there's got to be a winner and there's got to be a loser, but as long as the kids all had fun, that's our main objective."