Give CeeBees a chance

CeeBee Stars coach says fans put too much pres­sure on team

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

The Con­cpetion Bay North CeeBee Stars are get­ting hot at the right time with just un­der half of the reg­u­lar sea­son left to play, and coach Ian Moores seems to think fans should be more pa­tient with the team.

“ We’ve got a lot of play­ers who are play­ing well, and I know some guys are feel­ing pres­sure from fans, which is un­fair, I think.”

Af­ter los­ing a pair of week­end games to­wards the end of Novem­ber, Moores says fans were too quick to throw the team un­der the bus, in­clud­ing the coach­ing staff of Moores and as­sis­tants Ed­die Bartett and Peter Ge­orge.

“ There’s some play­ers as well that are tak­ing some heat for not pro­duc­ing of­fen­sively, which is un­fair, be­cause it’s early in the reg­u­lar sea­son, and guys are still get­ting used to their team­mates. It’s not some­thing where you throw to­gether a bunch of play­ers, drop the puck, and a bunch of play­ers score at will.”

But with the re­cent win­ning streak put to­gether by the team, Moores says fans are com­ing around to rec­og­niz­ing this CeeBees team can win.

The team is get­ting the kind of re­sults it has been hop­ing for since the start of the sea­son, when many pre­dicted the CeeBee Stars’ tal­ent-laden ros­ter might run away with the Avalon East Se­nior Hockey League ti­tle.

The team has won four straight games in the month of De­cem­ber to im­prove its over­all record to 9-4. Two of those wins came against the Mount Pearl Blades, who now lead the CeeBee Stars by only three points in league stand­ings, with 11 games re­main­ing on the CeeBees’ sched­ule.

The Blades won the first three meet­ings of the year, but the CeeBees seem to have found the right for­mula for de­feat­ing the Mount Pearl club.

“I think it’s just been a mat­ter of ev­ery­body be­ing able to gel to­gether by prac­tic­ing, and we def­i­nitely have tried some dif­fer­ent line com­bi­na­tions since the start of the sea­son, and it seems like what we’re us­ing right now seems to be work­ing,“ says Moores.

Last sea­son’s Herder fi­nal­ists have cer­tainly made some tweaks to their line-up, ob­tain­ing for­mer South­ern Shore Breaker Ray Dal­ton, past-CeeBees Keith and Ryan De­laney, and for­mer pro defenceman Bran­don Roach, amongst oth­ers.

Moores says while the team from last year may have had a bet­ter record at the Christ­mas break, he says it was con­sid­ered an un­der­dog group.

“ This team wasn’t con­sid­ered an un­der­dog in the league from the start of the sea­son un­til Christ­mas. I think there’s al­ways go­ing to be pres­sure on the CeeBee Stars, be­cause since se­nior hockey started in its hey­day, the fans have al­ways been spoiled by hav­ing very good, com­pet­i­tive teams, and they ex­pect to win. It doesn’t mat­ter that we have a dif­fer­ent team this year — the pres­sure is pretty much al­ways there.”

Lead­ing the way this year for the team’s of­fense has been the duo of Dal­ton and cap­tain Matthew Thomey, who are tied for sec­ond in league scor­ing with 21 points each.

“I be­lieve Ray Dal­ton was the best player the South­ern Shore Break­ers had last year,” says Moores, who ob­tained Dal­ton in a dis­per­sal draft shortly af­ter the Break­ers folded. “All he’s done is picked-up from where he left off last year, and he stepped in to our team and con­tin­ued to pro­duce. That’s been no sur­prise to me, and I’d imag­ine it’s no sur­prise to any­body around the se­nior hockey cir­cles in the prov­ince.”

As for Thomey, Moores says his cap­tain is also con­tin­u­ing his great play from last sea­son, when Thomey led the league in scor­ing.

“He’s in the up­per ech­e­lon in se­nior hockey for the prov­ince, and we’re lucky to have (Thomey and Dal­ton) pro­duc­ing of­fen­sively.”

The team has also ben­e­fited in re­cent weeks from the re­turn of Chris Sparkes, who missed four games with an in­jury. He sits third in team scor­ing with 16 points in nine games.

“He hasn’t missed a beat,” says Moores. “He’s still the same player, and noth­ing has changed. We’ll look for him to con­tinue to con­trib­ute of­fen­sively down the stretch.”

If the team has one wish­list item re­main­ing, it’s on de­fence, where the team would like to fill the void cre­ated by the de­par­ture of Matthew French. The CeeBee Stars at­tempted to se­cure im­port player Jeff Caron through the sec­ond league draft ear­lier this month, but failed to do so af­ter the player was ruled in­el­i­gi­ble by the league ex­ec­u­tive.

To make mat­ters worse, defenceman Chad Par­sons re­cently suf­fered an up­per body in­jury. He did not play in the CeeBees’ last game be­fore the break, and with Chad Fisher also out of the line-up be­cause of work com­mit­ments, the team was forced to dress four de­fence­men, with for­wards Mike Druken and Shane Gam­berg also pa­trolling the blue­line.

Mike Dyke re­ceived a game mis­con­duct early in the sec­ond pe­riod, pre­sent­ing fur­ther chal­lenges for the CeeBees.

“ We’re def­i­nitely in­ter­ested in an­other defenceman, and we’re pur­su­ing what­ever av­enues that we can,” says Moores, who adds there is no timetable on Par­sons’ re­turn to the line-up.

As for what needs to hap­pen for the CeeBee Stars’ suc­cess to con­tinue in 2011, Moores says play­ers need to stay healthy and con­tinue to fo­cus on play­ing a full 60 min­utes of hockey ev­ery game.

“It’ll start from our goal­tend­ing out­wards,” he says. “ We’re def­i­nitely em­pha­siz­ing de­fence first. We know we have the of­fence, and I think the keys will be to prac­tice hard and con­tinue to gel to­gether.”

The CeeBee Stars are sched­uled to play their first game of the New Year against the Bell Is­land Blues on Jan. 7 at S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace.

Ryan De­laney slips be­tween a pair of Mount Pearl Blades de­fend­ers to at­tempt a shot on Roger Kennedy dur­ing Avalon East Se­nior Hockey League ac­tion on Dec. 11. Con­cep­tion Bay North CeeBee Stars cap­tain Matthew Thomey watches the play de­velop from the side of the crease.

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