The odds were stacked against the Avalon male hockey team to medal at the 2014 NL Winter Games in Clarenville March 5-8.
However, the team overcame to odds to capture the silver medal at the Games.
Avalon was made up of a collection of players from the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region and Conception Bay South. Some play AAA, while others play house league and bantam B hockey.
Heading into the tournament, Avalon was up against full-time AAA teams and came within two goals of capturing the gold medal.
“The team did better than anticipated,” said coach Chris Crosbie.
The team squared off against Western in the final, dropping that matchup by a score of 3-1.
Crosbie said his charges played “exceptionally well” but the team could not buy a break in the game.
Both teams matched up well with each other. By the time the final buzzer had sounded, shots were 21-19 in favour of Western.
However, the Avalon shooters could not hit the net when given the chance and Western capitalized on the mistakes of their opponents.
“If we had’ve hit the net on 25 per cent of our shots, we could’ve beat them by two or three goals,” said Crosbie.
A trio of bounces
It is unusual to hear a coach break down his team’s road to the finals as a series of bounces.
But, that is how Crosbie describes Avalon’s journey to the championship.
“It was a set of three bounces,” he said.
The first one came in the team’s first game of the tournament when with .3 seconds remaining in the contest, Avalon tied things up at 4-4.
The next one came in the team’s third round robin game with Mount Pearl. Harbour Grace’s Ryon Williams tied things up at 2-2 in the dying seconds.
“Our third bounce was in the semifinal game against St. John’s,” said Crosbie.
It came in the form of goaltender Owen Petten.
By all counts the St. John’s squad played over the Avalon representatives, but it was the stellar play of Petten that was the difference.
In the end, Avalon defeated St. John’s 2-1 in what could be viewed as the first loss in 16 games for the capital city team.
“Owen took us to the championship,” said Crosbie.
Crosbie said the Games were more than just hockey.
“I was amazed at how every player mingled with everyone,” he said.
Crosbie came away from the experience with glowing reviews for the host community.
“Clarenville was fantastic,” he said.
That was a similar opinion amongst many of the Avalon players and coaches.
Despite dropping the championship game, Crosbie was pleased with how his team carried themselves both off and on the ice.
“We represented our region exceptionally well,” he said.
Members of the team are: Cameron Simms, Colin Parsons, Josh Williams, Mark Barrett, Mason Oates, Michael Hopkins, Noah Mercer, Owen Petten, Ryan Petten, Ryon Williams, Matthew Hoyles and Zachary Bennett