It's the most wonderful time of the year...

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... to be a sports reporter at the Telegram

St. John's -

It's a special time to be making the rounds of the senior and junior hockey circuits in the metro region over the past couple of weeks. But when the players on both sides give you and the hordes of passionate fans an unforgettable game, it's goes without saying it's not just special. It started with a impressive Game 5 in the C.B.N. - Shore Avalon East series and was followed up by a battle of craziest saves by Graham Cook and Freddy Diamond in Game7. Cook won the battle with countless brilliant saves, but Diamond took the match and the CeeBees, the series for the fifth straight year. Which set the stage for the CeeBees and the Caribous in Saturday's Telegram Herder Memorial Championship Series Game 1. Which wasn't a good hockey game, but was a great indicator of just how talented the 'Bous are. Maybe it was just their night, maybe they could do wrong. It was, after all, Game 1 between two teams that had never played one another prior. But almost every pass, every scoring opportunity - which there weren't even many great ones among their 28 shots - was there for Clarenville. There was nothing C.B.N. could do at many points. For that to happen to the CeeBees, well, that says something. Leaving Sunday's Game 2 up in the air. How would the CeeBees respond? Would they come out firing on all cylinders and crash the crease (not their style, but you have to do something about Caribous' keeper Jason Churchill)? Or would the West Coast champs have figured out the Conception Bay conundrum to fire home a fresh dozen? Three momentum swinging periods, an all CeeBees 10-minute sudden death overtime and most of an end to end second OT later, Clarenville were walking away up 2-0 with the 6-5 win. It really could have gone either way. Incredible start to what promises to be an incredible series. Game 3... Thursday. Check for live updates. But for how good the senior games were, Games 5 and 6 of the Co-operators St. John's junior league final were even better. After the Caps took Game 1, the Blades followed with a Game 2 win and back-to-back come from behinds in Games 3 and 4 to go up 3-1. But no one could have guessed St. John's would respond from a four-goal deficit with four in regulation and yet another overtime to win. No more than one would guess the teams would go to double OT Tuesday night with the Caps prevailing to force a seventh game. Good playoff hockey on both sides, but for the Blades, O'Brien played great, he's getting peppered and pretty much only beat on breakaways and ugly goals (tonight's winner went in off a Mount Pearl player). The gritty Kenny Pennell is all over the puck and Matt Ryan showed up with a hattrick tonight. Not hard to tell this was the first place team all year. And for the Caps. Collins is sharp in net, the defence is tight, forcing the Blades to work for their goals. Rookie Steve O'Keefe is putting on a great show, and Greg Kinsella leads by example. And collectively, they're playing with a ton of confidence, evident in a two-goal night by role player Sean Lynch and Patrick Parfrey chipping in with his first of the year... the OT winner! So after all that, I can safely say these playoff games are more than special. They're something to be thankful for. So get out and support amateur hockey people, it's worth the price of a movie ticket or supersized fast food combo.

Besides, who doesn't love a good scoff of chips, dressing and gravy?

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