By Jaymie L. White
Special to Wreckhouse Press
PORT AUX BASQUES – Local hockey players Bella Seaward and Marissa Billard returned home with bronze medals after competing in the U13 AAA Female Provincial Hockey Tournament in Corner Brook over the Mar. 18 – 20 weekend. Both girls played on the U13 AAA Steers Western Warriors hockey team, and it was their first time playing at the AAA level.
Bella’s father Brent Seaward said both were valuable assets.
“Marissa proved to be a very strong stay at home defence who played her position. Bella was a hard skating forward who helped her team’s offence by finding the back of the net throughout the season. Both girls worked really hard all season and continued to improve with each game they played.”
The Female U13 AAA League consists of four teams: the Eastern Ice Breakers from the St. John’s area, Tri Pen Ice from the Trinity/Placentia area, Central IcePak from Central NL, and the Western Warriors from Western NL.
The Steers Western Warriors team was made up of 15 players, one goalie, and four alternate players from communities across Western NL including Deer Lake, Corner Brook, Stephenville, and Port aux Basques. Their hockey season consisted of four tournament-style weekends; however, only three were able to be played due to the pandemic.
“Due to the COVID outbreak during Christmas break, all hockey was shutdown across the island and games/tournaments were not allowed to be played. Due to this the third weekend tournament for the Female U13 AAA league was cancelled,” explained Seaward.
The first tournament the girls played in this season was held in St. John’s from Nov. 5-7, where the team won their first game against Central IcePak, lost their second to Tri Pen Ice, and placed in the gold medal game after a 3-3 tie against the Eastern Ice Breakers. Eastern came out on top on Sunday morning, Nov. 7, and beat the Steers Western Warriors 6-0 in the gold medal game.
In their second tournament, held in Glovertown from Dec. 10-12, the Steers Western Warriors ended the weekend with a bronze medal after their final win against Tri Pen Ice.
With the cancellation of the third tournament, the next played was the most recent provincial tournament, which was a round robin format.
Their first game in the Provincial Tournament was against the Central IcePak and Seaward said it was a fast-paced game with a lot of chances at both ends of the rink.
“The Steers Western Warriors skated away with a 1-0 victory with the only goal being scored by Katie Hayden of Deer Lake. The second game for the Steers Western Warriors was against the Eastern Ice Breakers. Again (it) was a very fast paced game with plenty of chances at both ends of the rink but would end up in a 1-0 loss for the Warriors.”
On Saturday afternoon the team played against the undefeated Tri Pen Ice who kept their round robin streak alive, beating the Warriors by a score of 2-0. Seaward said the team fought hard, but the Warriors just couldn’t find the back of the net.
“Steers Western Warriors would play off in the crossover game Saturday evening with the winner going to the gold medal game. Eastern came out very strong in the opening period and scored three quick goals. Eastern Ice Breakers goalie played very well and stopped all shots in the first period. Second period opened with the Warriors Jayla Matthews from Meadows getting one past the Ice Breakers goalie making it 3-1. Eastern quickly answered back to make it a 4-1 hockey game.”
Seaward said both teams traded chances for the rest of the period with no other goals being scored. The Ice Breakers advanced to the gold medal game and the Warriors played for bronze against the Central IcePak, and Seaward said the game maintained a fast pace with each team having plenty of scoring chances.
“The Warriors found the back of the net in the second period with the goal being scored by Anna Bugden of Corner Brook. The third period saw lots of action and chances in both ends of the rink, IcePak pulled there goalie late in the third for the extra attacker. Warriors had a great chance on the open net, but former Port aux Basques resident Gracie Blackler, a defender on the Central IcePak team, dove in front of the open net to block the shot and stop the Warriors from scoring.”
The time ran out on the clock, and Bella Seaward and Marissa Billard joined their team to claim their bronze medals. Seaward said winning the bronze and competing was bittersweet for Bella.
“She was disappointed she never made it to the gold medal game, but she was also very proud that they won the bronze medal. At the same time, I know she was very upset and sad that the season was over, because she met 20 new friends from all over Western Newfoundland. So there were a lot of tears because the season was over and the girls weren’t going to get to see each other as much as they were. They saw each other pretty much every weekend, so she was happy to win the bronze and sad it was all over.”
Marissa’s father, Junior Billard, said she was proud to take home the bronze medal and enjoyed competing on the Steers Western Warriors.
“She had an excellent year really and she enjoyed the AAA Hockey. She would’ve loved to win the gold medal, but she was happy with the bronze. She made a lot of new friends, friends that she is probably going to have for the rest of her life. She wishes the season was a bit longer, but she still has her regular Easter tournaments coming up, so still a bit of hockey yet.”