Newfoundland and Labrador entries keep making noise at Canadian ball hockey championships.
Steve Power hopes someone is listening.
“Do you know of another sport where five teams from this province have played in national championship finals in the same year? I can’t think of any,” said Power, the St. John’s native who is also president of the Canadian Ball Hockey Association.
Power spoke from Winnipeg, where Colonial Auto Parts from St. John’s won the 2018 Canadian men’s masters championship on Saturday, the same day when Black Horse, representing Newfoundland and Labrador at the national senior men’s A competition, lost a gold-medal final.
Colonial Auto Parts defeated the Alberta Havoc 2-1 to take the title, while Black Horse fell 4-1 to the defending champion Edmonton Savages in the senior men’s deciding contest.
Both results represent a step up from last year for the N.L. teams; Colonial Auto Parts took silver in 2017, while Black Horse claimed the bronze.
“Do you know of another sport where five teams from this province have played in national championship finals in the same year? I can’t think of any.”
Canadian Ball Hockey Association president Steve Power
Earlier this summer at Canadian age-group championships Fredericton, N.B., Newfoundland won a gold medal in the male under-17 event and silver in both the male and female U19 divisions.
“The results speak for themselves, but sometimes I wonder how many people are really paying attention back home,” said Power. “You often hear about teams from Newfoundland finishing sixth or seventh in national championships in other sports and people saying how proud we should be. And we should be. If we finish sixth at nationals, we’re playing above our population.
“But here, we have five ball hockey teams from this province who have been first or second in nationals this year. That’s something else.
“And in every case, we’re playing against big provinces and teams from big cities,” added Power, pointing out much of N.L.’s competition this week came out of places like Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Vancouver.
Power, who was recently re-elected to a new two-year term as national ball hockey association president, admits his sport needs to do a better job of promoting itself at home, and hopes the recent success makes that work easier.
“We’re looking for respect, I guess you could say, and I know we need to earn it. But that’s what these players have been doing,” he said. “And if you look at who’s is playing for us, it’s some of the top hockey players from this province.
“They obviously have respect for the sport, especially if you consider that they’re paying to play for us in Canadian championships.
“We have fundraising, we have had great help from the provincial government and we have sponsors, but we need more.”
The Black Horse roster included forwards Zach O’Brien, signed by the AHL Toronto Marlies for next season, Marcus Power, set to play with the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers in the fall; and former Montreal Canadiens’ first-round pick Terry Ryan Defenceman and San Jose Sharks prospect Cody Donaghey and goalie Evan Mosher, who spent the last two years playing in a pro ice hockey league in Denmark.
Most of the rest have made their mark in major junior, junior A or collegiate leagues, with many of them now headlining the rosters of senior clubs in the province.
O’Brien was named an all-star forward in the senior men’s championship, which featured 10 teams. Quebec native and Philadelphia Flyers’ prospect Danick Martel was the selection as the top forward; Martel was picked up by Black Horse as his home province had no teams at nationals.
In the masters competition, Colonial Auto Parts won all five of its games in an event that featured six teams. Jeremy Bishop was the top scorer and tournament MVP; defenceman John Jarvis and goalie Ray Martin were the selections as top players in their positions; and forward Peter Cabral was chosen for the all-star team.
Other players the Colonial Auto Parts roster include Ryan Delaney, Robbie White, Mike Gambin, Ryan Simonsen, Jay Bearns, Jamie Tobin, Shawn Kane, Harold White, Rick Traverse, Gussy Kendell, Tom Arsenault, Rick Windsor, Tommy Beckett, Dion White, Gerald Lee, Lee Harding and Ryan, who saw action in both divisions.