DEER LAKE Justin Barbour was among the top scorers in the league, played hard every shift in both ends of the rink and only picked up three minor penalties while playing every game.
His stellar regular season with the Western Royals hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Barbour, a St. John’s native, got the nod as the most sportsmanlike and effective player in the West division of the Newfoundland and Labrador Senior Hockey League. League officials opted to select individual award winners for the regular season in both the West and East in an effort to recognize the achievements of players honing their skills in the respective divisions.
Barbour and linemate Michael Hynes were the offensive weapons for the Royals in the regular season with 28 points apiece on 13 goals and 15 helpers. The duo found themselves tied with two other players for seventh overall in the six-team, two-division provincial league.
Barbour, Hynes and former NHLer Darren Langdon form the Royals’ top line, and some people in provincial senior hockey circles believe this trio is one of the most dominant in the league.
What may surprise many is that Barbour only had six minutes in penalties. Hynes had only 12 penalty minutes and Langdon had the fewest penalty minutes of his career with 23.
Discipline has been a factor in how they approach the game, along with numerous rule changes over the past few years that have forced players to adapt.
Langdon, a man who once made a living in the NHL racking up penalty minutes, has certainly been impressed with the way Barbour shows up to play every night.
“He worked hard all year and I think he played every game, and to only take six minutes in penalties is mind boggling to me,” he said. “It’s not that he doesn’t work hard or bodycheck ... he does all that but he just does it the right way and that’s why he got noticed for it.”
Langdon said both his linemates bring a strong work ethic to the rink every night and they complement each other quite nicely, so it’s just a matter of him going to the net and providing the spadework in the corners.
Being effective while staying away from penalty trouble is something Langdon believes will be even more critical now that the run for the Herder is underway.
The Royals, fresh of a sweep of the Gander Flyers, open a best-of-seven West final against the top seed Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts this weekend. Game 1 is slated for Saturday 7:30 p.m., and Game 2 scheduled for Sunday 2 p.m. at Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium.
Langdon believes the Royals match up well with the Cataracts based on six games during the regular campaign where each team was in it until the final buzzer.
Langdon broke out the D word when asked what will be the key to the series.
“With any series you need to stay disciplined,” he said. “Like we did against Gander ... stay out of the box and the wins will come.”
For a look at other provincial senior hockey league award winners see today’s Scoreboard on Page 14.