With just a shade over 10 minutes remaining in Colin Power’s debut in the Subway Avalon East Senior Hockey League with his hometown Mount Pearl H.J. Bartlett Electric Blades, he had a decision to make.
Already with two goals and a helper to his credit in the team’s season-opener against the Conception Bay North Eastlink CeeBee Stars, Power thought to himself, “‘should I go for the Gordie?
“Yeah, why not?’”
So Power dropped the mitts with the CeeBees Shane Gamberg,
If Power was the superstitious type, he might be regretting his completion of the “Gordie Howe hat-trick,” consisting of a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game. The five-foot-10, 210-pound forward hasn’t put a point on the scoresheet since.
But the five-game scoring drought doesn’t seem to cause too much concern for Power, who is back in Newfoundland for a winter after spending the last season in the ECHL with the Stockton (Calif.) Thunder and Wheeling (W.VA.) Nailers, preceded by four years at Saint Mary’s University.
After all, added offensive punch is only part of what Power brings to the Blades’ lineup.
“Sometimes I’d rather a big hit than scoring a big goal. I get energized by big hits and being a physical presence out there,” contends the 26-year-old Stephenville native who moved to Mount Pearl with parents Doug and Loretta when he was 10.
“I love that part of my game and being a factor.”
Blades co-coaches Randy Pearcey and Andrew McKim are equally enamored with Power’s energy and grit, even in the face of a scoring slump.
“There’s few guys who can hit while striding,” Pearcey says. “Most guys will glide and hit you. He doesn’t. I’m sure there are guys keeping their heads up every time he steps on the ice.”
“So whether he scores five goals or 50, he’s a big part of this team.”
But Pearcey and McKim don’t want Power’s style of play to lead to any more fights. Under Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador minimum suspension guidelines, a third fight in a season carries an automatic one-game suspension. (Four gets you two, five earns a three-game break, with the sixth putting an end to your season.)
Power, who had 13 fighting majors in 60 ECHL contests last month, says he “won’t back down from any fights” and admits it is challenging to avoid fisticuffs.
“It’s tough to hold back with a couple of fights already. I like to play on the edge, and get into the opponents’ heads by being that physical presence out there.”
Power actually had no intention of getting into his second fight, but felt it was necessary to make a point with Matthew French after the CeeBees’ veteran blueliner delivered what Power calls a “cheap shot” early in the teams’ rematch at Harbour Grace following the season-opener in Mount Pearl.
“I don’t let anyone take advantage of me out there. You’ve got to take care of yourself.”
Pearcey goes on to laud the power forwards’ fitness level, his skating ability, and willingness to play just about any role he and McKim ask of him, from logging big minutes on the penalty kill and to setting up camp in front of the opposing goalie on a penalty kill.
“The way this kid is... he’d be in goal in you wanted him to,” Pearcey boasts.
Teammate Terry Ryan, who admits to knowing little of Power before this season, was quickly impressed
“He wouldn’t look out of place in any league,” Ryan insists.
So if Power is as good as Pearcey and Ryan suggest, why he isn’t still in the ECHL?
“I couldn’t come to terms with my team in the ECHL,” Power says of the Greenville, (S.C.) Road Warriors who acquired his rights in a trade with Wheeling in late June. The Road Warriors were the first of several ECHL clubs — along with a few European clubs — to make offers, but none of them appealed to Power.
“It was never what I wanted contract-wise.”
Not surprisingly, when he made the decision to come home for a season and finish off his degree in criminology from Saint Mary’s through distance education, there were plenty of offers from across the province. In the end, staying close to home and suit up with former minor hockey teammates such as linemate Grant Kenny.
As for what’s next in his hockey exploits, Power isn’t looking past this season, but says, “if we don’t get the championship this year, maybe the following year.”
“This is a great group of guys, with lots of chemistry. Hopefully we’ll bring a Herder to Mount Pearl for the first time.”
Power and the undefeated Blades welcome the Bell Island Family Drug Mart Blues to the Glacier tonight at 7:30.
In other Avalon East games this weekend, the CeeBees take on the Northeast Rona Eagles 7:30 p.m. at the Jack Byrne Arena tonight and then welcome the Blues to S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.