2013-14 Herder Memorial Trophy champion Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts.
©— Photo by Matt Molloy/The Advertiser
Their opponents made a series out of it, but in the end the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts capped off a tremendous season by winning the team’s second modern-day Telegram Herder Memorial Trophy Championship Series Saturday night.
The Cats defeated the Clarenville Caribous 3-2 in overtime of Game 6 in front of a packed house at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor to take the best-of-seven final 4-2.
“Whenever you win a championship, it’s hard to describe the feeling,” said Cataracts’ defenceman Luke Gallant. “To do it on at the senior level, it feels just as good as the other two national championships that I won (with the University of New Brunswick) and the other three (Atlantic University Sport) championships.
“I’m pretty fortunate to play with such a great group of guys and to do it for this team, because you can see how much it means to everyone.
“We didn’t get the job done last year, but it feels pretty good to get it done this year for everyone.”
Most people expected this celebration would have occurred last Saturday in Clarenville with the Cataracts holding a 3-0 lead into Game 4 after embarrassing the Caribous at home in Game 3. But the Herd rallied for back-to-back 5-2 wins to send the series back to Cats’ barn.
“The last three games of this series, it was almost like it was two different series where the first three games were not even close to the pace of the last three games,” Cats’ coach Shane Lukinchuk told the Telegram.
“I think that’s a huge credit to Clarenville. There’s a lot of pride in that room, they brought an effort and they pushed us hard. Our guys are gassed, there’s not a lot left in the tank.
“We knew if we had to play tomorrow, it would have been difficult, so we’re fortunate we got it done here tonight.”
Caribous' coach Ivan Hapgood said his team showed they were up to the task of skating with the Cataracts, but a 3-0 hole was simply too much to overcome.
"it’s like being down 3-0 in the first period of a game, everything has to go in your favour in order to come back and win that game," Hapgood added.
Cataracts import Rob Hennigar scored the winning goal a little over two minutes into the extra frame with the Caribous’ Jeremy Kavanagh in the box for hooking.
After a scramble in front of the net, captain Mike Brent found Hennigar at the side of the net and league’s regular season MVP and top scorer made no mistake sending the puck into the yawning cage.
Brandon Street and Cam Fergus also scored for the Cats’ whose AJ Whiffen stopped 21 of 23 shots and took home the Cliff Gorman Memorial Award as Herder MVP. Gallant collected two assists, his 11th and 12th points of the series.
Mitch Oake had both Caribous goals, with captain Dustin Russell assisting on both. Jason Churchill made 36 saves.
It was the 12th Herder trophy for a senior team playing out of the former mill town. The All-Stars won in 1953, followed by five-year (1955-1959) run of titles by the Andcos. Cataracts teams won back-to-back in 1971 and 1972 and again in 1981 and 1982. The team last won the title in 2011.