They take playoff momentum into into Saturday's opening game of Herder final against Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts
Say one thing for the Southern Shore Breakers … their timing is right on the mark.
After languishing through a sub-.500 regular season, the Breakers are 8-3 in the provincial senior hockey post season and poised for a run towards their first Herder Memorial Trophy championship since 2004.
The Breakers, winners of provincial senior league’s Eastern Division, and the Central Division champs Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts are set to clash in the Herder final starting this weekend.
Games 1 goes 7:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by the second game 2 p.m. Sunday. The Breakers’ home games will be at Jack Byrne Arena in Today instead of the cramped quarters at Mobile’s Southern Shore Arena, which gave the Breakers a distinct home ice advantage through the Eastern playoffs.
The best-of-seven series shifts Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium in Grand Falls-Windsor the following weekend.
The Breakers took the Eastern Division crown with a four-game sweep of the reigning Herder champs, Clarenville Caribous. However, the Shore needed the full seven games to beat Conception Bay Blues in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Caribous were 15-6 this season, while the Blues were 11-9. The Breakers, on the other hand, managed just a 9-10 overall record.
“Sometimes, with amateur senior hockey, the regular season doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story because a lot of times, you don’t have your full lineup every night,” said Breakers coach Josh Lunden.
“For us, there was the first half of the season (when the Shore was 3-6 at the Christmas break) and the second half (when the Breakers closed out the regular season and went into the playoffs on a 5-0 run). It took a while, but the team came together.”
On Jan. 12-13, the Breakers played a pair of road games against Central Division opponents Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander Flyers. And while the Shore lost both games 6-3 and 7-3, the results served notice to the Breakers players they could be competitive with the top teams in Newfoundland senior hockey.
“It was a shot of confidence knowing that, yes, while they beat us, we came away with the realization that neither team was really better than us,” said Lunden.
“A lot of close games in the first half didn’t go our way, and we went into the break knowing that we cannot be satisfied with those results.”
The Breakers added some new faces this season, specifically goalie Mark Yetman, defenceman Daniel Cadigan and forward Matthew Oates, who all came over from Northeast in a trade orchestrated by Southern Shore general manager Ian Sullivan.
“Sometimes, with amateur senior hockey, the regular season doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story because a lot of times, you don’t have your full lineup every night … It took a while, but the team came together.” — Josh Lunden, Southern Shore Breakers coach
In Yetman, the Breakers picked up one of the most experienced goalies in the province, and Cadigan is generally regarded as one of the top defencemen in senior hockey circles.
“They’ve certainly played a key leadership role for us,” Lunden said. “Together with our captain, Jeremy Nicholas, who’s all blood, sweat and tears, they round out our leadership group nicely.”
Nicholas, who won a Herder in 2017 after being picked up by the CBN CeeBee Stars for the provincial final, leads all playoff scorers with nine goals and 16 points in nine games. Cadigan has a pair of goals and 10 assists in 10 games and Keenan Kennedy, a Barrie, Ont., native who played in the Maritime junior circuit, has four goals and six assists in nine games for the Shore.
Meanwhile, the Cataracts beat the Gander Flyers in six games in the best-of-seven Central Division final.
Only those two teams played in the Central Division, meaning the winner of that series went straight to the Herder final.
The fact it’s played just one series, means Grand Falls-Windsor has been sitting idle since wrapping things up March 16.
The Cataracts won three straight Herders from 2014-16.
The Breakers, meantime, last won the Herder in 2004. Their coach that season was the late Greg Smyth. Like Smyth, the former St. John’s Maple Leafs defenceman, Lunden is a former professional hockey player who played in the American Hockey League in St. John’s, with the 2012-13 and 2013-14 IceCaps.
The Herder Memorial Trophy is emblematic of provincial senior hockey supremacy. Here are the Herder winners over the years:
- 1935 - Corner Brook Royals
- 1936 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s
- 1937 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s
- 1938 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s
- 1939 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s
- 1940 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s
- 1941 - Bell Island
- 1942 - No competition
- 1943 - No competition
- 1944 - Bell Island
- 1945 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s
- 1946 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s
- 1947 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s
- 1948 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s
- 1949 - St. John’s, St. Bon’s
- 1950 - Buchans Miners
- 1951 - Buchans Miners
- 1952 - Buchans Miners
- 1953 - Grand Falls
- 1954 - Buchans Miners
- 1955 - Grand Falls Andcos
- 1956 - Grand Falls Andcos
- 1957 - Grand Falls Andcos
- 1958 - Grand Falls Andcos
- 1959 - Grand Falls Andcos
- 1960 - Conception Bay CeeBees
- 1961 - Conception Bay CeeBees
- 1962 - Corner Brook Royals
- 1963 - Buchans Miners
- 1964 - Corner Brook Royals
- 1965 - Conception Bay CeeBees
- 1966 - Corner Brook Royals
- 1967 - Conception Bay CeeBees
- 1968 - Corner Brook Royals
- 1969 - Gander Flyers
- 1970 - St. John’s Capitals
- 1971 - Grand Falls Cataracts
- 1972 - Grand Falls Cataracts
- 1973 - St. John’s Capitals
- 1974 - St. John’s Capitals
- 1975 - St. John’s Capitals
- 1976 - St. John’s Capitals
- 1977 - Corner Brook Royals
- 1978 - St. John’s Blue Caps
- 1979 - St. John’s Mike’s Shamrocks
- 1980 - Gander Flyers
- 1981 - Grand Falls Cataracts
- 1982 - Grand Falls Cataracts
- 1983 - Stephenville Jets
- 1984 - Stephenville Jets
- 1985 - Corner Brook Royals
- 1986 - Corner Brook Royals (Allan Cup champions)
- 1987 - St. John’s Capitals
- 1988 - Corner Brook Royals
- 1989 - Port aux Basques Mariners (Hardy Trophy champions)
- 1990 - St. John’s Capitals
- 1991 - No competition
- 1992 - Badger Bombers
- 1993 - Flatrock Flyers
- 1994 - La Scie Jets
- 1995 - Southern Shore Breakers
- 1996 - Southern Shore Breakers
- 1997 - Flatrock Flyers
- 1998 - Flatrock Flyers
- 1999 - Southern Shore Breakers
- 2000 - Southern Shore Breakers
- 2001 - Deer Lake Red Wings
- 2002 - Corner Brook Royals
- 2003 - Flatrock Flyers
- 2004 - Southern Shore Breakers
- 2005 - Deer Lake Red Wings
- 2006 - C.B.N. CeeBee Stars
- 2007 - C.B.N. CeeBee Stars
- 2008 - C.B.N. CeeBee Stars
- 2009 - Clarenville Caribous
- 2010 - Clarenville Caribous (Allan Cup champions in 2011)
- 2011 - Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts
- 2012 - Clarenville Caribous
- 2013 - C.B.N. CeeBee Stars
- 2014 - Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts
- 2015 - Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts
- 2016 – Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts (Allan Cup champions in 2017)
- 2017 – C.B.N. CeeBee Stars
- 2018 – Clarenville Caribous
- 2019 - ???