2000-2001 Berwick Bruins Bantam ‘B’ Hockey Team
When the 2000-2001 season began, there were few indications the Berwick Bruins would win the provincial Bantam ‘B’ hockey championship. The team didn’t even have a coach until Randy Rockwell was encouraged by a neighbour to apply for the position.
The Bruins played 58 games against ‘B’, ‘A’ and ‘AA’ teams during the 2000-2001 season and finished with a record of 32 wins, 17 losses and nine ties.
The team had two outstanding goalies, a big mobile defense and a balanced attack up front. Three players averaged a point or more a game, 11 scored 10 or more goals, and five players had more than 20 goals.
Devon Leslie, a peewee-age player, led the team in goals with 29 and points with 61 in 55 games played.
During the season, the Bruins participated in tournaments in Berwick and Dieppe, N.B., in the league playoffs in Middleton and finally the provincials in Liverpool.
After playing off with other Western Valley teams (Greenwood and Bridgetown-Middleton), the Bruins were designated Bantam ‘B’, but seemed to flirt with mediocrity until making a key addition to the team at the roster deadline in December.
Jordan Bent scored 12 seconds into his first game, and went on to score at least once in each of his first six games. With him on board, the Bruins became a different team, and responded by going on an 11-game winning streak between January 13 and February 18.
Berwick breezed through the first three rounds of the playoffs, beating teams from Kentville, Canning and Halifax.
The Bruins were tested by Halifax in the first game of that series before scoring three goals in the third period, then winning in overtime on a goal by Roddie Easson.
At the provincials in Liverpool, the Bruins won two of their first three games, and needed to beat the host team by three goals to secure a berth in the championship game. Berwick ended up winning 12-3, and faced Liverpool again in the final a couple of hours later.
The championship game proved much closer, but the Bruins were able to come out on top thanks to solid goaltending from Brandon Best who was named the game MVP. Brad Ueffing and Andrew Acker were both named tournament all-stars.
Following the provincials, Berwick took part in the bantam league playoffs in Middleton against Bantam ‘A’ teams from the Valley and South Shore.
The Bruins made it to the championship game before losing to a strong team from Bridgetown/Middleton.
The team had a lot of doubts at the start of the year, but by the end, they had the confidence in themselves and each other to compete against any team they played.
Team members included Morgan Lynch, Jeremy MacEachern, Brock Salsman, Brad Ueffing, Matt Dykes, Devan Leslie, Jordan Bent, Ryan Currie, Brennan Leslie, Nick Turner, Andrew Acker, Rod Easson, James Smellie, Brandon Best, Joel Conrad, James Allen, Tyler McDonell, head coach Randy Rockwell, assistant Rick Salsman and manager Jack Smellie.
Also contributing greatly to the team’s success were the parents, timekeeper Jamie Allen and team sponsor John Nichols of Berwick Building Supplies.
The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is please to induct, in the team category, the 2000-2001 Berwick Bruins Bantam ‘B’ hockey team.