Hungry for another title

Bradley Bouzane
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But this might be Chris Bartlett's swan song

Chris Bartlett has circled the senior hockey block a few times over the last dozen-plus years, but the drive for another provincial championship hasn't sputtered even with a pair of Herder replicas in his trophy case.

Now, with his Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars leading the Deer Lake Red Wings 3-2 in this year's Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy final, Bartlett can't help but think of another lap around the ice with the most prestigious piece of hardware in Newfoundland sports.

Veteran Conception Bay North CeeBees Stars forward Chris Bartlett may be playing in his last Herder series. Telegram file photo

Chris Bartlett has circled the senior hockey block a few times over the last dozen-plus years, but the drive for another provincial championship hasn't sputtered even with a pair of Herder replicas in his trophy case.

Now, with his Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars leading the Deer Lake Red Wings 3-2 in this year's Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy final, Bartlett can't help but think of another lap around the ice with the most prestigious piece of hardware in Newfoundland sports.

"A third one would be huge to me because you never know when you'll get back there," said Bartlett, who hoisted the Herder last season with the CeeBees and in 2003 with Flatrock. "I know guys that have never been in a Herder (final) who have been playing senior hockey for as long as I have, so every one you get is special. I just had a baby boy this week, so it would be even more special for me because who knows if I'll even play next year.

"This weekend might be my last kick, but definitely one of the most memorable for me."

Bartlett's first child, Jack, was born on April 10, so with new obligations comes a questionable future.

Although the newborn is Bartlett's first, there's plenty of children in his life.

The 30-year-old forward is also a Grade 4 teacher at St. Peter's Elementary in Mount Pearl.

So how does a room full of nine-year-olds react when their teacher is dropping the gloves with the likes of former NHL enforcer Darren Langdon, as was the case in the first game of the series in Deer Lake?

"The students were all excited that we're down at Mile One and in the paper and on TV and stuff," he said. "I have kids from Grade 2 up to Grade 6 come up to me (about the series). They think it's kind of cool because they have something to relate to an older person about and it's not that often that one of their teachers is involved in a game at this level.

"It's special to me when I have a lot of kids come up to me and it's nice for them to speak with a teacher in an ordinary conversation."

And how about Bartlett himself? His thoughts on scrapping with a guy who made a career trading punches with the Bob Proberts, George Laracques and Tony Twists of the world?

They go back

"We had some past history two years ago and we've been physical with each other, but there's a mutual respect, so we had a few words and before I knew it, we were fighting," Bartlett said.

"I just went in doing what I normally do and if he hit me, he hit me. I saw an uppercut come once," he laughed, "and I said 'Please don't hit me,' but nothing went through my mind that it was Darren Langdon.

"After the fight was over, yes, I thought about it, but then and there it could have been anybody.

"It shows some character of our team.

"A lot of people say we're not tough enough and I'm not the biggest fella or the smallest fella, but our team sticks together and me doing that was just to prove that we won't be pushed around."

Rest assured Bartlett and his team will be fired up Saturday night, when the Stars and Red Wings clash again in Corner Brook at the Pepsi Centre for Game 6 of the series, with a seventh game set to go 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon if it's needed.

Although his team is one game away from a repeat as provincial senior champions, Bartlett isn't taking anything for granted because he knows first-hand what can happen in the final two games.

"It's a good feeling to go back out there up a game, but as the old saying goes, the last game is always the hardest to win," Bartlett said. "We're confident ... but we can't underestimate Deer Lake, either. We went out there two years ago up 3-2 and we ended up losing in Game 7. We'll put everything on the line out there Saturday night because you never know what can happen in a Game 7.

"Last year we won it in St. John's and that meant a lot, but if you win on the road, the team bonds more. Either way, you still win a Herder and it's great."

bbouzane@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars, Deer Lake Red Wings 3, Flatrock NHL Red Wings Pepsi Centre for Game 6

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Deer Lake, Mount Pearl Corner Brook St. John's

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