GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – The Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts survived a late power play and intense pressure from the Corner Brook Royals to win Division A of the atom invitational held in Grand Falls-Windsor over the weekend.
Played at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium on Sunday in front a large group of nervous parents, the Cats went ahead 3-2 late in the third thanks to a goal from Noah Pelley.
However, with less than a minute on the clock, the Cataracts found themselves down two players who were sitting in the penalty box.
The Royals pulled their goalie for a six-on-three advantage, and with just a few seconds left on the clock, had a glorious opportunity when two players broke in alone.
However, the Royals couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity, giving the Cataracts an exciting 3-2 win.
“We usually get a strong game from our team all the time,” said head coach Mark Hurley after Sunday’s gold-medal win. “We have a really, really good group of kids, and it’s a well-deserved win for them.”
The end of the game can also be a learning lesson for the young Cats.
Facing a six-on-three disadvantage with only seconds left on the clock, Hurley saw a mistake that, luckily for the home team, did not come back to haunt them.
“We had a little lapse where all three of our players went into the corner,” said Hurley. “They misfired on their opportunity, so I guess we got kind of lucky. It might have been the ghost of Joe Byrne, probably.”
Captain Zack King joined his teammates for an on-ice celebration after the game, one that saw the young Cats parade around the ice with their trophy before posing for a team photo.
The championship provided the fans some exciting — and nail-biting action — and King said it was a fantastic feeling hearing the buzzer to end the game.
“You know, this feels awesome,” said the young captain. “To hold on to win the championship game with all of my friends, it’s just an awesome feeling.”
Aidan Locke put the Cats on the board in the first period and Aaron Wallach scored in the third before Pelley scored the eventual game winner.
Graham Madore and Carter Bromley scored for the Royals.
Besides winning gold on home ice, King said the weekend provided plenty of laughs off the ice.
“You get to spend a lot of time with your friends and teammates at the rink,” said King. “You also get to meet other kids from other teams from across the province.”
The gold-medal win is another step to being ready for what should be an exciting provincial tournament.
The Cats have found success all season long, and the head coach said the plan is to continue preparing for provincials — the biggest tournament of the year.
“You get a lot of hard work from these guys at practice. A lot of these guys are young, but they also go to Fundamentals (Fitness), too, and that shows on the ice,” said Hurley. “We’ve got a few exhibition games coming up in Clarenville and we have some games coming up against some east coast teams. Those are the teams we’re going to be facing at provincials, so those are the guys we have to be ready to play against.”
The Gander Flyers, Bay Arena Rovers and Avalon Celtics also competed in the A Division of the invitational.