By John Browne
Calling it a ‘Miracle On Ice’ moment might be stretching it, but there’s no doubt all the stars had to align for Tri-Pen Ice to win the 2014 Atlantic peewee AAA hockey championship during the weekend in Fredericton, N.B.
Tri-Pen captured the crown with an impressive 5-1 victory over Host EDZA West Sunday after losing the team’s first two games and eventually needing help to even make it to the final.
The Ice was the only team that had to play twice on the opening day of the tournament, Thursday, and one of the losses was a 3-2 setback in overtime at the hands of the EDZA West team.
The Newfoundland and Labrador representative had to win their final two round-robin games to have any chance of playing for the title, which they did.
“We had a tough first day,” said Tri-Pen coach Nelson “Bo” Bennett, “but we settled in after that and we got better with every game.”
One of the round-robin wins was a 6-0 victory over Summerside Capitals of Prince Edward Island which was exactly the score Tri-Pen needed to keep their gold medal hopes alive.
Bennett also pointed out Tri-Pen needed the Host team to beat Nova Scotia, which they did, and, finally, they needed the last-place P.E.I. squad to defeat EDZA East of New Brunswick, which they did as well.
“It was a ‘Miracle on Ice’ kind of ending, considering we dropped the first two games and that usually means you have no chance of winning it all in this sort of tournament,” said Bennett.
“Hats off to P.E.I. for showing a lot of class. It would have been very easy for them to just pack it in because they had nothing to play for in their final game. Instead, they battled their butts off. I’ve got a lot of respect for their coaches and their kids.”
As it turned out, playing Host EDZA West in the round-robin gave the Newfoundland and Labrador representatives a good idea of what to expect in the final.
Bennett said his team outplayed West in the round-robin game, so beating them in the final wasn’t a complete surprise.
“We knew we had a couple of special players (Dawson Mercer and Kyle Petten), but we weren’t able to get any scouting information about the other teams, so we were blind going into the tournament in that regard,” said Bennett.
As it turned out, both Mercer and Petten came through in flying colours.
Petten, a centre, and Mercer, a right winger, tied for the tournament scoring lead after round-robin play. Petten scored eight goals and set up four makers for 11 points, while Mercer’s 11 points came from six goals and five assists.
Mercer led the team in the gold medal game with two goals and two assists. Petten, Shailynn Snow and Ethan Crosbie had single markers.
Petten was chosen the tournament’s most valuable player, and Mercer was selected the tournament’s top forward.
The two players, who skate on the same line, are known as the “Dynamic Duo,” Bennett says with a laugh.
Bennett said the team also got outstanding goaltending from Riley Petten.
It’s the first Newfoundland and Labrador win in the Atlantic AAA peewee championship tournament since 1993 when the provincial team roster included a player named Daniel Cleary, who was born in Carbonear and grew up in Harbour Grace.
Members of the 2014 championship team are Lucas Adams, Luke Akerman, Caleb Andrews, Liam Best, Ethan Crosbie, Mark Davis, Tyler Dohey, Michael Ingram, Dawson Laundry, Taran Leonard, Cole Mackey, Reilly Mayne, Dawson Mercer, Kyle Petten, Riley Petten, Ethan Pollett, Lucas Russell and Shailynn Snow. Coaches are Nelson “Bo” Bennett and Craig Mercer (assistant), trainor Roger Akerman and manager Carolyn Petten.
Nova Scotia TASA Ducks edged Eastern Ice Breakers from Newfoundland and Labrador 3-2 in the championship game of the Atlantic female bantam hockey championship tournament in Montague P.E.I., during the weekend.
The silver-medal winning provincial side went 3-1 in the round-robin.
Grant Nolan of St. John’s Marshalls was chosen the top forward at the 2014 Atlantic minor midget AAA championships in Alberton, P.E.I. Sunday.
The Marshalls lost the bronze medal game 6-1 to Nova Scotia’s Bedford Blues. Luke Tremblett scored for St. John’s. Aaron Small was in the net for the Marshalls.
St. John’s was 1-2-1 in the round-robin portion of the tournament.