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Former hockey Mounties star player assuming coaching role

Local hockey fans have been treated to some exciting hockey by the Lady Mounties over the past few years and have come to appreciate the heady play of key defensive player from Stephenville, Nfld., Kristen Cooze.

Star hockey Mounties defensive player Kristen Cooze will return to the local school to take up a coaching job with the team.

While Cooze was instrumental in leading the Mounties to the Atlantic Conference championship final two years ago she failed in her efforts to help bring a championship to the Sackville institution. So, she simply turned her attention to a related sport and not only led Canada to the world ball hockey championship this year but in so doing was named the most-valuable-player for the tournament, which was held in Zug, Switzerland.

Canada was undefeated in the seven games, defeating Czech Republic 5-2 in the final for the gold medal.

In the previous tournament in 2013 Canada brought home the silver and now has established a reputation as the top team in international competition.

Cooze was one of five Newfoundland players on the Canadian squad that also included assistant coach Tom Welch. Newfoundlander Amanda Kean was the leading scorer throughout the tournament with six goals and six assists in the seven contests.

Mountie coach Zach Ball has announced that Cooze will be returning to Mount Allison this fall, this time as assistant coach in charge of strength and conditioning.

“Kristen was always the type of player around whom you could build a team,” said Ball in discussing her prowess both as a member of the Mounties and the Canadian championship team. “She was just so versatile – she could play defense or the wing equally as well and had great speed and quickness.”

During her undergraduate time at Mount Allison she won the Joey’s-Drover Award and the $1,000 bursary for her efforts on the ice and in the classroom.

Ball recruited the young lady five years ago from the major midget ranks in Newfoundland. She earned AUS rookie-of-the-year honours and continued to improve throughout her career.

According the Ball, Cooze hopes to eventually become a head coach and chose to break in with her old team en route to someday taking on a head coaching position.

“Kristen has the personality, skills and knowledge to become a fine and successful director of hockey operations for some school in the near future,” he predicts.  In the meantime she hopes to secure employment in the region so she may remain with the team for a few seasons while honing her trade.


Hockey Officials

Old time hockey fans will no doubt remember two of the finest referees ever to don the zebra outfit and ply their trade for many years at our very own Allison Gardens as well as throughout the Maritimes and beyond.

Dewar Judson and Romeo LeBlanc earned the respect of both players and fans whenever they stepped onto the ice mainly due to their demeanor and seldom, if ever, were they forced into confrontation with the players.

We have observed and heard leather-lunged fans heckle some referees but not these two – perhaps it was a certain charisma – but they not only fully understood the rules but used discretion when calling plays.

Judson first came into prominence in Sackville during the heydays of the old Sackville Eagles. He was the chosen official of the local team and even accompanied the group by train to handle the Campbellton Tigers series in 1953. A surprisingly fast skater in spite of a stiff leg caused by an old injury, Judson had a flair of being in the right spot at the right time and, when challenged, had the size and strength to put any unruly player in his place.

On one occasion when a team from Springhill was allowed to challenge the Eagles as an independent entry Judson averted some incidents when he whistled the game over in the second period with the score 9-0 and fights breaking out all over the ice. And his authority was never challenged – he had earned the trust of all those involved in the game.

Dewar Judson went on to referee for many years, including games in the old Maritime senior league which featured a majority of players imported from other regions and he did it by respecting the players who, in turn, accepted his decisions.

But Dewar Judson is now 92 years of age and living out his days in a Moncton nursing home. Your columnist visited him when he was a patient in the Moncton hospital earlier this year and was immediately recognized and called by name as he reached out a huge hand and showed he still had the strength to bring a lesser man to his knees.

Romeo LeBlanc was a slightly build young man who learned his trade in Moncton and ended up calling plays in the American Hockey League. He contributed immensely to improving the level of hockey officiating in the region as president of the officials group. He often took young officials under his wing and taught them how to properly present themselves and how to officiate a game in a manner that he would barely be noticeable.

It’s believed that even Jack Drover who may not have been too engaged with a lot of referees had a great deal of respect for this rather shy but instantly likeable gentleman. And it would be difficult to find any player or fan who had anything negative to say about this marvelous whistle tooter.

Unfortunately, Romeo LeBlanc passed away earlier this year, leaving a huge gap in the local hockey fraternity.


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