Three young, talented hockey players from the Exploits region got the exciting opportunity to represent their province against teams from the Atlantic region.
The Atlantic Challenge Cup, which took place in Moncton from Oct. 5-8 this year, saw the best players from Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI face off during a weekend of high-level competition.
Among the top players from Newfoundland and Labrador chosen to represent their province were, on the girls’ U15 team, Laura Horwood of Grand Falls-Windsor and Destiny Budgell of Botwood, and on the boys’ U15 team, Scottie Greene of Bishop’s Falls.
Horwood and Budgell’s team managed to bring home the bronze, and Greene’s team, while they didn’t place, had a great showing and an even better experience at the event.
This is the first time Greene got the opportunity to play at the Atlantic Challenge Cup, and said when he found out he was selected he was extremely proud. Horwood had tried out for the team three times, and this year was her second time playing in the tournament.
“I was really excited the first day, but when I got there during game day I was pretty nervous,” said Greene. Horwood echoed his sentiments.
Horwood’s U15 female team played PEI first, and managed to beat them, but then lost to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. They were then up against PEI once more for the bronze medal game, which they won 4-3.
“We were pretty happy with it,” she said with a smile.
Aside from being voted player of the game during one of the weekends’ matches, Horwood was also voted by her teammates as the hardest working player both on and off the ice, earning her the “Hard Hat” award for her team.
She said she was very proud to know her teammates appreciated her efforts and winning the award meant a lot to her.
Greene’s team didn’t manage to win any of their four games over the weekend, but he said he felt like the talent was there and with a bit of extra luck they might have made it to the gold medal game.
“The scoreboard didn’t really say how well we played,” said Greene. “We had one of the best teams on paper in my opinion.”
Any bad luck on the ice didn’t damper this young player’s spirit – he said the weekend was an exciting and valuable experience for him and the rest of the team. He said one of the highlights for him was getting one of goals during a game with New Brunswick.
“It was great to represent my province at such a big tournament,” said Greene. “It’s pretty crazy to think that Sidney Crosby and Teddy Purcell played at this tournament when they were my age.”
Greene added he was extremely impressed by the talent he saw on the ice during the tournament, and said he has no doubt he’ll see some of them in the NHL someday.
“Now I can say I got to play against them, that’s pretty cool.”
Both Greene and Horwood said they made a lot of new friends on their teams, and hope to keep in touch with them throughout the year.
“My teammates from this trip will be my opponents in the coming hockey season – that should be a lot of fun,” said Greene.
It was also both players first time visiting Moncton, and while they didn’t have much time to explore, they got a few hours on Sunday to spend time with their families,
“Everything they say there they say in French first, then in English, that was different!” said Greene.
Greene and Horwood agreed they’d been trying out for their teams again next year, but for now, have the memories they made during the 2012 Atlantic Challenge Cup.