Tyler Caseley was in novice hockey the first time he strapped on a pair of goalie pads.
The team’s normal goalie was sick, so he figured why not give it a try?
“My mom didn’t want me to. My dad said, oh yeah, let him do it. He’ll hate it, getting pucks shot at him.”
But he didn’t hate it.
“After I got off the ice I fell in love and knew that’s what I wanted to do,” says Caseley whose hometown is Kensington, PEI.
Fast forward to April 2019 and Caseley and his Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners are the MHL’s Canadian Tire Cup league champions, following a four-game sweep of the Campbellton Tigers on the road April 19 with a 7-6 Game 4 overtime win.
(Pucky Woo put together this video of the team's league final championship.)
Caseley put in a stellar performance between the pipes throughout the three playoff rounds and had two 3-0 shutouts against Campbellton in the league final. While the Mariners had a great regular season by finishing in first place in their division, Caseley says they stepped things up when the playoffs hit.
“That was some of the best hockey we played all year,” he says. “I’m just proud of each and every one of the guys. It’s just an incredible feeling.”
Caseley is a rookie on the team – in fact, the MHL recognized him as the league’s top rookie of the 2018-2019 season and he was also named to the MHL’s rookie all-star team. Sometimes he makes the plays look so easy and casual. Other times he has the fans cheering with his physicality on the ice, leaving them amazed that he could make such saves.
While this was a best-of-seven league final, Caseley says the goal was to end the series during the road trip to Campbellton where the series could have gone to a Game 5.
Although winning on home ice would have been nice, the Mariners did not want to leave anything to chance in a Game 6 or 7.
“We knew that they were going to play their best game. It was a highly offensive game,” Caseley says about Game 4. “We were down a few times, but we battled through.”
The Mariners came back from a two-goal deficit four times during the game.
Also, more goals were scored by the two teams during this one Game 4 than in the previous three games – a combined 13 goals in the April 19 matchup compared to 9 goals in the first three games of the series when the Mariners had allowed Campbellton to only score once.
The Mariners arrived back in Yarmouth with the cup Saturday evening, April 20, to the delight and excitement of hundreds of fans there to greet them.
The Mariners next road trip will be to Amherst when they play in the eastern Canadian Fred Page Cup junior A hockey championship, being hosted by the Ramblers May 1-5.
Back in Yarmouth after their championship win, forward Connor Peveril of Sackville, N.S., was getting lots of congratulations from fans for his OT winning goal.
It was the biggest goal he’s ever scored.
Not too long after Campbellton had hit the post on the Mariners’ net in overtime, Peveril took a pass from teammate Derrick Johnson and made a fast break for the net.
“At the time I was kind of blacked out. I remember I scored the goal and then we were all celebrating. Someone said ‘What did you do?’ and I said, ‘I have no clue,’” he says with a laugh.
In spite of the offensive push from the Tigers, Peveril says they were still feeling good about their chances.
“We were down two, came back. We were down two again, came back again,” he says. “Once Timmons scored that goal to tie it up, we knew it was our game.”
Logan Timmons of Cheticamp, N.S., scored the final two goals of the third period – the first to bring the Mariners to within one at 6-5, the second to tie the game 6-6 with just over one minute remaining on the clock.
“They’re a pretty good hockey club and in their last game they’re going to put everything on the ice. It was a good battle,” he says when asked about scoring those final two goals in regulation. “We had faith we could do it, it was a great feeling.”
Getting to experience the feeling with the team is Logan Quinney, whose hometown is listed on the roster as Las Vegas, NV. He was a January trade to the Mariners from the Valley Wildcats.
“It’s always a special moment to win a championship. It’s great group of guys and I’m glad we got it done,” he says, knowing the previous year had been disappointing for the team when they lost the league final to the Edmundston Blizzard in Game 6.
To get back to the league final this year the Mariners had swept the Truro Bearcats in the first round of the playoffs and defeated the South Shore Lumberjacks in six games to win the Eastlink South Division title. In their Eastlink North Division title win, Campbellton had eliminated the Summerside Western Capitals in 5 games. Many hadn’t seen that coming since Summerside had ended the regular season in first place in the league.
The Mariners knew not to underestimate the Tigers. Asked if the Mariners’ sweep of Campbellton was surprising, Quinney says, “At the end of the day we have a great team here so it wasn’t shocking. But they had a good team too so it was surprising to win four straight.”
During the celebration rally for the players and fans on Saturday evening, Mariners head coach Laurie Barron recalled being with the team in 2012 when they lost to the Woodstock Slammers in triple overtime in Game 7 of the league final. That year the Mariners had twice rebounded from 3-1 game deficits in the earlier playoff rounds.
“I was here in 2012 when we lost the heartbreaker and last year was another tough loss and we finally got it done,” he said at the rally. “This cup is for everyone in this building.”
The only other time the Mariners have won the league title was in 2007-2008.
The head coach isn’t the only Barron with the team. His son Matthew, who grew up playing minor hockey in Yarmouth when he was a kid, has been playing on the team for four years. He was named the MVP of these MHL playoffs.
Barron’s 17 total points were tied for the league lead with teammate Andrew Martell, while his 11 assists were second only to teammates Brett Crossley and Noah McMullin. During the playoffs Barron was held off the scoresheet just twice in 14 games.
“When you have a championship team you have probably 9 or 10 guys who were probably deserving of the award,” Barron says about receiving the MVP award. “But obviously it means a lot and I’m very happy.”
He says there is no doubt that Campbellton played very strong in Game 4.
“But with this group we just knew we couldn’t quit and we weren’t going to quit. It was just a matter of time before those goals went in,” he says.
Aside from winning this championship with his team, it was also a great moment for Barron to share the victory with his dad.
“I got to hand the cup to him so that was a pretty special moment,” he says. “I know he’s been waiting a long time for it as head coach. He deserves it just as much any anyone.”
Long before playing together on the Mariners, Barron and teammate Chris Goreham played on minor hockey teams together in Yarmouth.
Goreham – who shares the ‘C’ with teammate Noah McMullin this season, and who hails from Clarks Harbour, Shelburne County – carried the Canadian Tire Cup off of the Mariners bus when the team arrived in Yarmouth.
Having grown up in this region, he says getting the chance to win a league championship in his final year of junior A hockey is incredibly meaningful.
“Being from the area it’s special. Four years ago, we were last in the league, maybe second last, and last year we lost a tough one. This year it just felt so good to get it done,” he says. “It couldn’t be more meaningful for me and the boys. We worked so hard for it all year, it’s just unbelievable.”
Goreham wasn’t anticipating a sweep, but also says once the team went up 3-0 in the series, “we didn’t want to leave without that cup.”
“It made us play pretty hard for it. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I think everybody knew we’d come out on top,” he says.
Asked to comment about the Mariners’ momentum heading into the Fred Page Cup, Goreham says, “Right now we’re feeling pretty good, there’s no reason not to. We went 12-2 in our playoffs. There’s going to be some tough teams, but we’re all playing the same game, we’re all the same age, I think we have as good a chance as anybody. We know Amherst, we know the rink, we’re looking forward to it.”
As the Mariners made their nearly 10-hour bus trip home from Campbellton on Saturday – and as they got closer to Yarmouth – excitement was building on the bus. It was just a matter of time before they were going to be able to share their league championship with their fans.
“Obviously we were a little tired early on in the trip but as we got closer to home it was so exciting,” says Matt Barron. “Seeing everyone here, that’s one of the things that makes it so great, all of the fan support that we’ve got.”
Added goaltender Caseley about playing in Yarmouth, for Yarmouth, “I have no words. It’s truly incredible. I couldn’t think of anywhere else to play. It’s truly amazing.”
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