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Caribous 'make an empire fall'
Ken Oliver (koliver@thetelegram.com) From The Telegram

All good things must come to an end, and Saturday night at Mile One, the Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars' run of three consecutive Herders came to a quick end at the hands of a spirited Clarenville Caribous team that entered the provincial senior hockey scene just three years ago.

"We said going in," Caribous' forward Andrew Pearcey stated, "let's make an empire fall."

The CeeBees empire didn't just fall, it crumbled, with the final crushing blow coming in a 5-2 loss to the West Coast champs in must-win Game 5 in the Telegram Herder Memorial Championship series to capture its first modern-day championship series 4-1.

Derrick Kent paced the victors with a pair of goals, with Ryan Lauzon, Mark Chaplin and John Ball adding single markers. Sean Wadden and Matthew French replied for the CeeBees.

From Game 1 to Saturday's Herder clinching win, the Caribous were dominant in all aspects of the game, rarely giving an inch to the defending champs.

Where the CeeBees had one line - the trio of Ryan Delaney, Keith Delaney and Sean Wadden - producing the bulk of their offence, the Herd had two, sometimes three, lines lighting up the CeeBees.

Whenever Clarenville's top line of Mark Chaplin, Chris Mooney and Pearcey was covered tightly by C.B.N checkers, it seemed Derrick Kent, captain Dustin Russell or Brad Crann was there to supplement.

The Caribous skated harder, hit harder and made the most of their own skills - speed, agility and intensity - against the CeeBees' weaknesses.

But nowhere was the lack of parity more evident than between the pipes. While C.B.N. netminder Freddy Diamond struggled throughout the series - allowing 34 goals over the five contests, twice getting yanked in favour of backup Bronson Dawe - Clarenville goalie Jason Churchill was phenomenal, making improbable saves and always giving his team the chance to win, even in a 6-5 Game 3 overtime loss last Thursday.

He was named series MVP for his efforts, but Churchill humbly refused all the credit for the series win.

"I need to thank my defence, my forwards, the coaching staff, our amazing fans. It's a Clarenville Caribous MVP award. My name might go on it, but it goes to Clarenville and the area, my home town (Hodge's Cove) and my buddy Brent in the hospital," Churchill said of his childhood friend Brent Drodge, who suffered a brain aneurysm following Game 6 of the West Coast final and whose necklace the MVP wore during Saturday's Game.

"I came down here and gave 120 per cent, whatever I had in my body I gave it to this game tonight for him. I'm so proud of him and how he's come in the past little while. It's going to be a long road ahead of him, but he's going to make it. He's a strong guy and he's already meeting every expectation and more on his recovery time."

Pearcey gets to hoist Herder again

Unlike the majority of members of his young lineup, Clarenville bench boss Randy Pearcey has hoisted the Herder on more than one occasion. But it's been almost 30 years since he last won the coveted provincial crown with the 1978 St. John's Blue Caps (coincidentally, that team knocked Clarenville's previous senior hockey entry out of the hunt for the Herder that year.)

It's his first Herder that's seen him work strictly behind the bench however, and "ranks among the top," especially where he's a had a hand in the development of so many of the Caribous through his hockey schools.

"You look at it and you see the fruits of your labour, not only in one year, but over the years," explained Pearcey.

"Like Jason Churchill. Eight years old when he came trying to play goal. I think to win as a coach with such a young team is a major accomplishment."

His son, Andrew, says winning a Herder with his dad gives it special meaning.

"It's really amazing," said the younger Pearcey. "Not only for myself, but for Dad and I to get our first together ... hopefully it will be one of many more."

When Clarenville re-entered the provincial senior hockey scene three years ago, the plan was to start from scratch and build a team that could contend for the Herder in as few as five years.

"But after three years, we're pretty pleased to be bringing the Herder trophy to Clarenville," said team president Fraser Russell, father of Dustin.

"It's nice to see a new team win the Herder. I think it's great for hockey all across the province."

A rematch in 2010?

After Saturday's loss, CeeBees' captain Keith Delaney said he was taken back to the Herder of 2005, when his team fell to the Deer Lake Red Wings in Game 7. The CeeBees rebounded by winning three Herders in a row.

As much as he's confident the Caribous will be in the final again next season, Delaney fully expects his team to be even hungrier to reclaim their glory in 2010.

"We've been through a lot the last couple of years," Delaney said of teammates he considers 25 of his best friends. "We've won championships, lost a Game 7 in the Herder, and we lost 4-1 this year. We know each other well and to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing from the trainers down the line to the backup goaltender.

"I'd do it all again with the same guys in the same situation and hopefully we'll get that chance next year."

After the CeeBees dropped the first two games, and again after a definitive 10-3 in Game 4 on Friday, the argument could be made the team appeared to have become complacent and weren't as hungry to win as the upstart Caribous.

C.B.N. coach Eddie Oates says his team certainly didn't roll over for the Caribous or allow themselves be to trampled, but says there's "a fine line between saying you want to win and you really want to win.

"That's why it's so hard to repeat, having the same urgency game in and game out. Maybe we never had the same drive because we were going for No. 4. It's hard to get up there all the time," he said.

"Maybe after winning three in a row, you say we can turn it on when we want. But the game doesn't work that way."



  Clarenville one victory from first provincial championship

Rally puts new complexion on series

CeeBees win Game 3

CeeBees staying with Diamond

Better effort not enough to pull CeeBees even with Caribous

Caribous trample CeeBees

Cee Bees Edge the Breakers in Overtime to Win the East

There Will be a Game 7

Haynes posts hat-trick in Breakers win

Dyke pots hat-trick in Stars win

Wave double Sharks in penalty-filled affair


 
 
  SCORING LEADERS
RK P L A Y E R TEAM GP PTS
1  Mark Chaplin CL 5 15
2  Andrew Pearcey CL 5 13
3  Chris Mooney CL 5 12
4  Derek Kent CL 5 9
5  Brad Crann CL 5 9
  GOALS
RK P L A Y E R TEAM GP G
1  Mark Chaplin CL 5 8
2  Sean Wadden CBN 5 6
3  Derek Kent CL 5 5
4  Brad Crann CL 5 5
5  Andrew Pearcey CL 5 4
  Goals Against Average
RK P L A Y E R TEAM GP GAA
1  Kirk Stoyles CL 1 0.000
2  Jason Churchill CL 5 3.417
3  Fred Diamond CBN 5 5.740
4  Bronson Dawe CBN 2 8.571
  Save Percentage
RK P L A Y E R TEAM GP SVPCT
1  Kirk Stoyles CL 1 1.000
2  Jason Churchill CL 5 0.914
3  Fred Diamond CBN 5 0.793
4  Bronson Dawe CBN 2 0.778