Youth is served in Newfoundland’s gold medal sledge hockey victory
It was a case of the younger players stepping up to prove they belonged and a complete team effort in the end, says Newfoundland Sled Dogs coach Danny Ridgeley.
The Sled Dogs rode six straight wins, finishing with a 5-0 victory over the Buffalo Sabres Select to claim the gold medal at the 2014 London Blizzards Invitational sledge hockey tournament held recently in Ontario.
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Ridgeley, who was a part of the coaching staff that included Cluney Mercer and Todd Hickey — all of whom also hit the ice with the rest of the squad — said, the “younger players like Liam (Hickey), Terry (Dunne), Troy (Simpson), Matt (Nippard), Michael (Mercer), Corey (Clarke), Danielle (Arbour) and Shaughn (Connors) came into their own as players this year.
“The improvement in these players alongside our veteran players made the difference in London,” said Ridgeley.
“Overall, It was a team effort and getting four shutouts was not expected it, but was it was sweet considering it was the 10th anniversary of this tournament. All I can say is that I am very proud of the whole team.
Ridgeley noted the team played six games in less than 48 hours.
“We made it to the quarter finals last year, so we were hoping to approve on that this year,” added Ridgeley.
Ridgeley said he hopes the success of his team will generate interest “in much needed sponsorship for their local program.
“The team practices and scrimmages once a week, so we’re looking to leverage sponsorship to allow us to purchase more modern equipment, additional ice time and attend other competitions off the island.”
All of which, he said, is “vital to the long term success of the sport of sledge hockey here in our province.”
Other members of the gold-medal winning team are Keith Connors, Mel Fitzgerald, Don Martin, and Nick Nash.