Community gives team hero's welcome
© Contributed by Michelle Walton
The Parrsboro Midget A Predators captured the provincial hockey championship in Kingston last weekend, and were greeted to a hero's welcome upon their return home. Among those taking part in a parade along Main Street were (from left) Brooke Walton, Khristine Bowden and Megan Johnson.
PARRSBORO - A group of local girls went away hockey players last weekend, and came home champions. The Parrsboro Midget Girl Predators captured the provincial championship after an impressive weekend of competition in Kingston, winning the banner with a nail-biting 1-0 victory over Glace Bay in the finals on April 1. Coach Matt Smith said he was very proud and happy with the team's performance. It was the first ever appearance for a Parrsboro girls team at provincials. "Something we've preached all year long is that you can't be individuals in hockey, you have to be a team to be successful," he said. "In the last couple months they've been catching on t it, and this weekend they just put it all together." The Predators opened up the tournament with a 5-2 win over the East Hants Penguins on Friday night, followed by a 2-1 win over host Western Valley Saturday morning, and a 3-0 shutout of South Shore, the No. 1 seeds of the southern conference, on Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning saw them take their only loss of the weekend, a 1-0 squeaker to Glace Bay. "It was a great game," said Smith. "They scored on a lucky break, and we didn't get any breaks. It ended up that's who we had to play in the finals." The championship rematch took place that very afternoon, with Parrsboro winning by the same score as the previous game. The win capped off a great showing for the team in the tournament, which saw Victoria McCrindle named all all-star goaltender, Jessica Johnson named tournament MVP and Shelby Leopold named an all-star forward. In Saturday's skills competition, Alysha Canning wont the fastest skater competition, Jessica Johnson won the backwards skating competition, and Ava Winters won the breakaway shootout. Most of all, Smith was pleased with the poise his players showed throughout the weekend. Despite the 1-0 loss, "We knew we had a shot going in because we had seen every team except South Shore," he said. "We knew what everybody else had, and we knew if we stuck to our game plan and how we play hockey, we'd be all right."
Smith commended team captain Maddie Currie for delivering "classy" pre-game speeches that helped inspire the team.
Currie said the team played and worked its hardest all weekend.
"Captain or not, I am ridiculously proud of this team and every girl on it," she said. "Every girl helped this weekend. It was a team win, not an individual win. So many memories were made for so many people this weekend. It wasn't just the win that was so amazing, it was the memories made."
Assistant captains Shelby Leopold and Ava Winters said the whole weekend was amazing, and "icing on the cake" of a great season. "The whole team gave 100 per cent and to see us come out on top... nothing could top that feeling," said Leopold. "I'm so proud of everyone!"
Winters, who will be one of five graduating players this year, said the win was a long time coming.
"I just think this weekend was what we've been striving for since our team began years ago," said Winters. "I remember going to games, losing 8-0 or 9-0, and just being so excited to even score a goal! Winning provincials is an amazing accomplishment, memory, and way to end my minor hockey career!" In case winning the banner was not enough excitement for the girls, they were treated to a royal homecoming when they returned to Parrsboro on Sunday evening, including a reception at the fire hall. Supporters lined Main Street and cheered as the players were paraded in a lineup complete with fire trucks and police cars. Smith, who had been tipped off that there would be something awaiting their arrival, said he had no idea the magnitude of the celebration. "Words can't describe how that felt," he said. "To everyone who participated, I hope you realize you created a memory for those girls that will never fade."