Clarenville Caribous Drive for Five

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Updated: January 13, 2014
Clarenville Caribous | Newfoundland Hockey Talk

The Clarenville Caribous are contenders for the Newfoundland and Labrador Senior Hockey’s most coveted trophy – the Herder Memorial Trophy. This is an organization that has transformed the face of the game here in the province and an organization that should be feared when they face-off against you.

Since coming into the spotlight in the West Coast Senior Hockey League and now in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League, the team turned heads. They had skill and talent. They had speed and determination. They had the goaltender. They had the coaches and the volunteer base to be successful. They had the fan support.

Watching them play it was obvious that this was a team that were going to be contenders once they got the players got the experience of playing at the senior level against the powerhouses of the Deer Lake Red Wings, Corner Brook Royals and Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts.

The nature of hockey was changing everywhere, not just here in Newfoundland. The NHL and other major leagues were clamping down on the clutching, grabbing, hooking and fighting. It meant more room for the skaters, more prominence for the skilled players and it was during this change that the Caribous struck their stride.

The Clarenville Caribous have seen amazing success in the Newfoundland and Labrador Senior Hockey League. It wasn’t by fluke, it was by design. The people behind the scenes built a team that was based on young local talent. They wanted speed and skill to be their dominant characteristic and it wasn’t difficult to see that was working. At times the team lacked a leader on the blue line to drive their defense but it didn’t matter. The heart and soul of the team rested between the pipes in one Jason Churchill.

Churchill was a big goalie when compared to others in the league. His size didn’t matter because he had the talent that had resulted in him getting drafted 129th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks. Churchill had the goods and once he grew accustomed to being the number 1 goalie in Clarenville, he settled into the role quite nicely.

It helped with the likes of Dustin Russell and Andrew Pearcey as part of the early rosters. It helped that the Caribous made some key acquisitions with the Delaneys. It also helped that this was an organization focused on becoming winners in the NLSHL and that they did.

In 2008-2009 the Clarenville Caribous became Herder Memorial Champs, repeated this feat in 2009-2010, went on to the take the Allan Cup Championship in 2010-2011 and again became Herder Champs in 2011-2012.

How does the 2013-2014 Clarenville Caribous compare with the previous versions of the organization?

To put it in simple terms, they are as good or better than before. They have acquired some veterans such as Terry Ryan and recently acquired Chad Earle. Both bring experience and depth to the team.

This is a team that is working hard to drive for championship number 5. If their performance continues like it did this past weekend in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League with their sweep of the Mount Pearl Blades, they may only be a few short months from that championship. Even with the organization committing to host the 2015 Allan Cup, there is no denying that this organization can be considered one of the best that Newfoundland has seen.

As they drive for number 5, it will be only a matter of time before they reach that milestone.

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