Pictured, from left, are: Ryan Coleski, Kenny Osmond, Garrett Murphy, Chaise Patterson, Brett Trask (coach), Marshal Newcombe, Eric Dufour, Tristan Parker, Elias Trask, Steve Murphy (head coach), Alex Bennett, Julian Coldwell-Wile, Wilson Sprague, Dylan Hennigar, Sean Bennett (coach), Justin Shanks, Jeremy Riley, Nick Sauveur, Jeremy Davison, Bryant Chambers, and Jim Riley (coach). (Submitted photo)
With the stage setting itself all season, two West Hants teams concluded the Western Nova Scotia Minor Hockey League season by competing against one another for the championship title at the Newport and District Rink in April.
The two West Hants teams were the top clubs in the Western Nova Scotia Minor Hockey League during the 2011-12 hockey season.
One team was coached by Andy McDade while the other was coached by Steve Murphy.
Both teams had managed to make their way into the championship game through hard work and great plays.
McDade's team would go into the game with "home ice" by virtue of having two more points than Murphy's team during the regular season. However, everyone at the packed Brooklyn arena knew that "home ice" was really in both teams’ favour.
West Hants had been selected the prior year to host the 2012 championship game.
The fans were loud and the cheering was contagious. McDade's team opened the scoring early in the first with a shot from the point by Jake Giles and popped a second not too long after when Patrick Weir took a pass from Jacob Caldwell and Brent Vallis to take a bit of wind out of Murphy's team.
However, after a thunderous body check by Marshall Newcombe to force a turnover, a pass off the wall by Garrett Murphy and a rush by Kenny Osmond to pick a hole in the near side, new life was breathed into Murphy’s team.
McDade's team would score again late in the first on a great shot by Ryan Blackburn after taking the pass from Jordan Hartt. This would force a goalie change near the end of the first. Jeremy Riley stepped aside after stopping several shots and handed the reigns to Alex Bennett. These two great goalies had been changing with each other all year and both knew what they had to do.
In the second period, and with Murphy's team down 3-1, Wilson Sprague took a pass from Tristan Parker and Ryan Coleski from the offensive corner and found the back of the net to pull within one.
At the other end, Bennett battled hard and was forced to make some tremendous stops to keep his team in the game.
In the third, with both teams battling hard, Parker took the pass from Coleski and put a shot top shelf to tie the game 3-3. Things would stay tied with both teams, as there were some spectacular saves and great defensive plays on both sides.
With less than a minute to play, Elias Trask blocked a blistering shot by Giles that left him hurt but, somehow still able to make it to the bench as he realized that fellow teammate Justin Shanks had picked up the loose puck and fed it to Nick Sauveur for a rush to the offensive end. Sauveur made his way to the front of the net and with only 17 seconds remaining, slide the puck home to secure the victory for Murphy's team.
By all accounts, both teams played hard and deserved the win but, on this day, Team Murphy took home the banner and the recognition of being the 2012 Western Nova Scotia Minor Hockey League Champions.