Grand Pre hockey player stuck on Marine Atlantic ferry en route to Atlantics

John Decoste
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Kate Spooner

"It's been an adventure just getting here."  

Kate Spooner of Grand Pre, a goalie on the East Hants Pro Cresting Penguins hockey team, was one of the people trapped on the Marine Atlantic Ferry between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia April 3 after it became stuck in thick ice.

Spooner was travelling to Deer Lake, NL, the site of the Atlantic midget AAA girls' championship, with her teammates, including another Kings County resident, Courtney Foster.  

The team left around 3:30 p.m. April 1 for North Sydney to catch the ferry to Newfoundland. The roads "weren't great," but the team made it to the outskirts of North Sydney when their bus got stuck in heavy snow.  

"We were turning off the off ramp, about 500 metres from our hotel, when we got stuck in about a metre of snow," Spooner said.  

"We already knew the ferry was cancelled. We were stuck for two hours. All sorts of men with shovels, and snowplows, were trying to get the bus unstuck. It's amazing how many people just showed up to help."  

Once they got moving again, they spent two hours waiting in line.  

"Finally, we got to the checkpoint, but it was two more hours before we got on the ferry because they load the trucks first."  

The team finally made it onto the ferry, which had been scheduled to leave at midnight, around 2 p.m. on Wednesday.  

"Then we couldn't leave until 5:30 because they were checking the conditions."  

Once on the ferry, the team had "rooms with bunks, and a nice cafeteria where we got a hot meal," but the adventures weren't over yet. Less than an hour out of North Sydney, the ferry became stuck in the ice.  

"There was probably four feet of ice everywhere," Spooner said.  

Three of the five teams in the tournament - Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and New Brunswick - were all on the same ferry.  

"We were all wondering if it would be cancelled, or postponed, or the schedule pushed back. Finally, we got notice that the schedule would be pushed back a day."   

Despite some tweets from people on the ferry, Spooner said they never ran out of food on the ferry.  

"I expect they were getting a bit low on some things, but we were told they had enough to feed everybody for three days," she said.  

"The crew was great. They gave us all a complementary meal for all the time we'd had to wait."  

Finally freed from the ice, the ferry arrived at Port aux Basques, NL early in the afternoon April 3.  

After an uneventful bus ride, Spooner and her teammates were in their hotel when she called, looking forward to a restful night. The tournament will now get underway April 4, with games at 11:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., followed by two games April 5.

"I'm looking forward to it, now that we're here. Once we got here, there was such a relief, but we're all excited now."

She's feeling confident Nova Scotia will do well.

 "I have a good feeling we'll be playing in the final."

Even so, their win over Boston Pizza in the league final was "unexpected. B.P. had won every year there's been a league," she said.  

"We love playing them. They're our rivals. We were happy just to be in the final. The best game of the series was probably game two, the one we won 1-0. Games three and four were similar. We got all the right bounces...a lot of people said they felt we deserved to win. It's our year, and everybody has really bought into the system."   

Results from Atlantics are available here and games can be watched live here.

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, Boston Pizza

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, North Sydney Atlantics Deer Lake Kings Sydney New Brunswick Port aux Basques

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