When the Corner Brook Royals won the province’s first Allan Cup national senior A hockey championship in 1986, only about half the team was actually from Newfoundland.
When the Clarenville Caribous won the province’s second national senior crown last weekend in Kenora, Ont., just three of the 24-man roster were import players.
“To put a team together from the Clarenville area and the Conception Bay area, to win nationally, it was an unbelievable feeling,” Caribous’ defenceman Ryan Power said of the team, which included 10 members of the Avalon East league champion Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars.
Prior to Wednesday night’s game at the Telus Cup national midget championships at Mile One Centre, the Caribous presented the 102-year-old Allan Cup to members of the Hockey Newfoundland and Lab-rador executive and former Hockey Canada president Don Johnson.
Caribous’ general manager Derek MacPhee said many fans from the Clarenville and Harbour Grace areas made the trek to St. John’s for the ceremony.
“It’s great for community pride when we can put a team together and be as successful as we have for the past four years. We won two of our (West Coast) league titles, two provincial titles and now the Allan Cup, a Canadian title. It’s huge,” said MacPhee.
The real celebrations, however, are still more than a month away.
“To put a team together from the Clarenville area and the Conception Bay area, to win nationally, it was an unbelievable feeling.” - Caribous’ defenceman Ryan Power
On the final weekend in May, Clarenville will turn into Allan Cup central, with a planned motorcade, receptions, community activities and a banquet.
Power, a native of nearby Norman’s Cove, expects it to rival Herder celebrations from two years ago, when the ‘Bous defeated the CeeBees to become provincial senior champs.
“I remember the reaction from the first Herder win and that was pretty wild. It wasn’t just hockey fans; it was the whole town,” he said.
The Caribous aren’t guaranteed a chance to defend the Allan Cup next year — the 2010-11 Herder Memorial Trophy champion Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts have first right to represent Newfoundland in any playdowns for the Cup — but MacPhee said the tournament could find its way to the province in the not-so-distant future.
“I spoke with Dean Filane, chair of the senior council for Hockey Canada, and he pretty well guaranteed us for 2015,” said MacPhee, who added the Caribous have also applied to be the alternate location for 2013 and 2014.
“I think they would respect that we bit the bullet the last two years (on the cost of travelling to the 2010 and 2011 Allan Cup tourneys) and give us the nod,” MacPhee suggested.
“We’d certainly like to host it.”