SPRINGDALE, NL — Other than their new provincial championship banners and the gold medals hanging from their necks, the under-12 girls hockey teams from Springdale and Baie Verte have little in common.
Their paths to the provincial titles acquired at the mega tournament in Gander this past weekend were about as far apart as any two teams could travel.
Springdale and district has a deep history with female hockey. These under-12 girls have had role models for years who have celebrated success across the province. They followed in the footsteps of those before them all season long, achieving success along the way to the point where a championship was an expectation.
The Bravettes were undefeated in claiming the under-12 provincial C division championship.
Baie Verte is only in its second season of under-12 girls hockey, coming off its inaugural year winning just a single game all season. The team did not score a goal in last year’s provincial tournament.
Year two was monumentally different. The team entered this year’s provincials having already won a gold medal at a Deer Lake tournament, a silver in Corner Brook and Baie Verte, and a third-place finish in Springdale. However, expectations remained moderate — fun and desire to compete were ambitions.
The path to a championship would prove more challenging for the Sabres, who had two ties in the round robin. But, the Baie Verte girls — including five girls from the La Scie hockey program — made the most of that opportunity.
Springdale and District Bravettes win under-12 C division title
Springdale opened the tournament with an 8-0 blanking of Gander before downing Grand Falls-Windsor 3-1. They had their biggest challenge against a team from Corner Brook, eking out a 2-1 victory. They defeated Lewisporte 5-1 and then Lake Melville 8-1.
They would match up with Corner Brook again in the championship, this time handling the competition much easier. A 4-0 victory would give the girls the provincial title.
Head coach Dave Edison referred to his young team as a powerhouse throughout the tournament. Their total plus/minus was a plus 27 in six games — 30 goals for and three goals against.
“Their depth was really important,” Edson said. “We had a mixture of new girls with some girls who have been playing since they were four or five years old. It was a great group that gelled at the perfect time.”
The Bravettes celebrated a lot of success throughout the season, and the coach’s expectations heading into the provincial tournament were high. However, the girls still had to bring their A games at the right time, something they were able to do.
When developing young hockey players, on-ice success is only one part of the progress a coach hopes to see.
“It is just a great group of girls who have grown exponentially this year on and off the ice,” Edison said. “It has been tremendous, and they are a treat to be around. I had a lot of fun.”
Baie Verte Sabres win under-12 D division title
Baie Verte opened the tournament with a 3-3 tie against Lewisporte before finding a groove in a 7-0 win over the Deer Lake Red Wings. It was another shutout in their third game, a 2-0 win over Mount Pearl. A 5-1 win over Conception Bay Regional had the Sabres rolling, while a 2-2 tie against Deer Lake was good enough to put them in the D division final.
The championship game would be another rematch, this time against the Conception Bay Regional squad. A 4-1 victory gave Baie Verte the provincial title.
“All we expected was for the girls to go in and have fun,” head coach Jeffrey Quigley said. “We knew we could compete, if we played well, but we didn’t expect to have the tournament we had.
“Our girls showed up to play, and it was the best time they played all year.”
It wasn’t just a win celebrated by a team, but a community. A motorcade was held for the players from La Scie when they arrived home Sunday, and the Baie Verte players experienced the same Monday evening.
“That’s the best part of girls hockey — how much the off-ice stuff means too,” Quigley said. “This is a big thing for a lot of young girls, especially because we have girls from eight years old and up. It was a very big thing for them to experience winning and celebrating with a motorcade where everybody was cheering them on.”
This team is a story of dedication and perseverance, according to the proud coach. There was no quit within a group that could have been frustrated and deterred by the results of that rocky first season together.
“We went from a bunch of girls just learning the game and finding a love for the game to this year becoming a little more competitive,” he said. “They started to come together as a team and play together, but they really enjoyed learning all the skills involved. They worked really hard to get to the point we are at now.”
Quigley, who is president of Baie Verte Minor Hockey, hopes the success of these young players inspires even younger girls to play the sport.
Baie Verte Sabres capture under-20 bronze medal
The Baie Verte Sabres under-20 hockey team went through a wave of emotions in a short tournament in St. Anthony. In their opener, they battled the eventual silver medalists from St. Anthony to a 7-7 tie. They were then shut out by Springdale 3-0 and lost to Gander 5-1 to complete the round robin portion of the event in fourth place.
However, they were back at the top of their game during a rematch against the Springdale girls for the bronze medal, winning the important game 5-0.
Springdale had lost to Gander 8-4 and St. Anthony 5-3 in their other round robin games.
Springdale Bravettes win bronze in under-15
The Springdale Bravettes under-15 girls team continually got better in a tournament in Bonavista that would see them take home bronze.
After opening the tournament with an 8-0 loss to Marystown and an 8-1 loss to Bonavista, they narrowly defeated St. Anthony and Area Minor Hockey 4-3 to earn a berth in a bronze-medal showdown with Deer Lake. It was another close game in a battle for the medal, but Springdale would come out victorious with a 5-3 win.