St. Anthony Polars’ Adrian Ward keeps an eye on the puck during Peewee Mega Tournament action at the Pepsi Centre on April 2. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
GOOSE COVE How does a young man from a community of only 250 people find his way onto a provincial hockey team?
“A lot of hard work,” Adrian Ward of Goose Cove said when asked how he earned a spot on the provincial Under-14 male hockey team representing the province at the Atlantic Challenge Cup in Moncton.
“With hard work you can go anywhere. If it wasn’t for hard work I wouldn’t have made the team because there were a lot of good players trying out.”
Ward, a 13-year-old native of Goose Cove near St. Anthony, is one of two players from western Newfoundland named to the provincial Under-14 male team heading to Moncton with hopes of upsetting the top teams in Atlantic Canada under the microscope of dozens of scouts at the Red Ball Internet Centre in Moncton. Andrew Burden of Corner Brook, Ward’s teammate and buddy on the Western AAA peewee team last season, is the other player from western Newfoundland.
The Atlantic Challenge Cup is the culmination of the High Performance Programs in each of the four Atlantic provinces. Ward grew up playing the game in St. Anthony and proved to be one of the most dominant players in his age group. Last season he took a huge step in his development when he played AAA peewee hockey against some of the top teams in the province and even more importantly at the Atlantic AAA Peewee hockey tournament held in Corner Brook earlier this year.
He admits the game has become a bigger challenge for him since his days honing his skills in St. Anthony. He has a better understanding of how the game is played and how many good players in his age group are excelling on the ice.
“It’s harder to compete because you’re playing better teams,” the son of Roy and Sharon Ward said of the transition to a higher calibre of hockey.
He only tips the scales at 130 pounds so it’s safe to say he won’t be noticed for his bone-crushing open hits, but he has a skillset that provides him with a flare for the offensive so he wants to make a contribution on the scoreboard.
“I can’t really beat anyone up on the ice or flatten anyone so I just have to pass, shoot and try to score some goals,” he said.
He knows players will be bigger and stronger so he will have to work hard to hold his own. However, he has confidence in the group and sees no reason why they can’t give a good account of themselves.
“I want to be able to say we got gold,” he said. “It’s not out of the question. We got a good team and there’s a chance we can do it.”
Regardless of what unfolds in Moncton, Ward beams with pride realizing how far he has come. He is aware that it’s not every day an athlete from a tiny town on the Northern Peninsula goes far in sports so being the first guy from Goose Cove to be picked for a provincial hockey team warms his heart. He hopes other young athletes are inspired to pursue a dream or goal just like he’s done.
“That there’s always a chance,” he said of his message to young athletes. “No matter where you are from you can do well in sports and other things.”