Courtney Foster, Kate Spooner and Maddie Phillips, members of the East Hants Pro Cresting Penguins, show off the provincial banner they won en route to Atlantics. The team won silver medals at Atlantics and Spooner was named top goalie in Atlantic Canada. - Submitted
Grand Pré's Kate Spooner named top goalie in tournament
Silver medals in hand, the East Hants Pro Cresting Penguins returned to Nova Scotia April 7 from the Atlantic Midget AAA girls’ hockey championships in Deer Lake, NL.
East Hants, with Courtney Foster of Waterville and Kate Spooner of Grand Pré on the roster, lost 2-1 to the Moncton Rockets in a closely-contested final April 6.
Brooke Murphy’s power play goal at 6:38 of the third period proved to be the game-winner. East Hants applied pressure to the end, but eventually ran out of time.
Taylor Keeping had the lone goal for the Nova Scotia squad, opening the scoring at 11:45 of the first period. Claire Warren was between the pipes for East Hants and was chosen her team’s game MVP.
“It was a very close game the whole 60 minutes,” Spooner said. “Claire Warren had an awesome game, and so did our whole team. We would all agree we left everything on the ice.”
The entire experience was memorable, Spooner said.
“I’m very proud of how classy and appreciative our tram was throughout the tournament. I believe we represented Nova Scotia very well, and hopefully next year we’ll do just as well, if not better,” she said.
Her teammate agreed.
"Atlantics was an amazing experience. The tournament was a battle each and every game, making you give 120 per cent every time out,” said Foster.
“I felt our team came closer together, and accomplished something none of us would have dreamed of at the start of the year. Although we didn't win Atlantics, we did win a silver medal. Every player walked out of the rink with their head held high, knowing they had given their all.”
With just one goal against in two games, Spooner was named goalie of the tournament, which she termed “a complete surprise. I had no idea I would get it, and I was so shocked when my name was called.”
Spooner’s teammate Moira MacDonald was also recognized, as the tournament’s top scorer.
Round robin play
The final score was 1-0 for the Newfoundland team when East Hants played its first game April 4 against the Central Icepack. Spooner described it as “a bit of a messy game. We still had our ‘bus legs’, and were chasing the play here and there.” At the same time, she said Warren “played really well” in goal, “and the one goal against her was unlucky.”
Nova Scotia’s second game, later that day, was a different story. East Hants scored four times in the first period en route to an 8-0 win over the host Western Warriors.
This time, Spooner was in goal and earned the shutout.
“Everyone felt good, and was pleased to have come back with a big win after losing our first game,” Spooner said.
She only faced “around 10 shots,” with not many of them good scoring opportunities.
In the third game April 5, East Hants took on Kings County, P.E.I. and won 3-2 in a game that took overtime to decide. The game started slowly, but according to Spooner, “as soon as we got the first goal, we got going.”
In the opening minute of overtime, Warren “made a huge glove save,” that ended up being a game-saver. Shortly after, Madison Clarke netted the winner, “a good goal,” Spooner said.
Nova Scotia’s final round robin game that evening was against Moncton. According to Spooner, both teams already knew they would be playing each other again in the final.
“It was nice to play with no pressure,” Spooner said, “but we knew we still wanted to win.”
In a “really fast-paced game,” East Hants went ahead 1-0, but Moncton tied the score on the power play, scoring on a shot on which goalie Spooner was screened.
The game ended 1-1, “even with overtime, and we were all very happy with how we had played.”
Foster said the entire team was thrilled with their overall performance, especially considering the travel challenges they faced en route to Atlantics.
"From the blizzard we drove through to get to the ferry, being stuck on the ferry for a day, having our bus break down and carpooling to the rink, waking up the morning of the final and hearing there was a gas leak at the rink, and a weekend full of enjoyment and fast-paced hockey, there wasn't much more we could have asked for," she said.
Read more about the team's long trip to Deer Lake here.