The Delaney dilemma
Opposing teams get double dose from North River brothers
When Keith and Ryan Delaney, along with younger brother Bradley, used to skate on a pond behind their home in North River, under the watchful eye of father and occasional coach Ron Delaney, it was one of the few chances they had as kids to play hockey together.
Separated in age by three years, the pair played at different levels throughout their minor hockey careers at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts. Keith eventually left the island to play junior and later university hockey, while Ryan followed him to Ontario a few years later, playing one game with his brother’s Toronto St. Michael’s Majors in the OHL. Ryan also spent two seasons playing in leagues just below the OHL.
But since the end of Keith’s university career, the Delaneys have been inseparable. They’ve been together for parts of five seasons with the Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars, and last year suited up for the Grand FallsWindsor Cataracts in the West Coast Senior Hockey League.
“ It’s not something we sat down and talked about, saying we were always going to play together. Next year or the year after, we could go our separate ways, but for now, it’s just worked out that way,” says Ryan, who centres a potent line for the CeeBees with wingers Matthew Thomey and Chris Sparkes.
Thus far, it has been a blessing for the CeeBees to have the Delaney brothers as a pair. They centre the Stars’ top two lines, and both finished — 28 — Centre — six-feet, two inches — 190 pounds
— Detroit Red • • • • • Wings • • Herder win in 2006 • — Keith Delaney, Chris Sparkes, Matthew Thomey, Neil Cleary, Mitchell Oake, Sean Wadden • North River and St. John’s • — Ron Delaney • — Fleetwood Mac • Monte Cristo • • and downhill skiing • en alfredo • — biographies (currently reading Theo Fleury’s “Playing With Fire”) —Pavel Datsyuk
— The Count of — Dexter
— chick- in the top-six for regular season points on the team.
Though they play the same forward position, each Delaney has his own style of play. Ryan describes himself as more of a dump-and-chase player, while characterizing Keith as the brother more likely to enter the offensive zone and handle defenders through shear strength.
Though each player is six-feet, two inches tall, Keith holds a size advantage. On the league website, his weight is listed as 212 pounds — 20 pounds heavier than Ryan.
“Keith’s a lot bigger than me and stronger than me on the puck,” says Ryan. “I don’t think you’d call it a grinding roll as such, but I’m more of a get the puck in the corner, cycle-cycle type of player, and set up someone in the slot.”
Aside from playing senior hockey together, the Delaney brothers also both have educational aspirations. Keith is a teacher at Amalgamated Academy in Bay Roberts, and Ryan is taking education at Memorial University after having completed a petroleum-engineering diploma at College of the North Atlantic. He hopes to teach primary-elementary, and is working on his French language skills to expand his opportunities for employment.
They have won five Herder titles between them, and this year they will look to make it seven, as the CeeBee Stars continue to make its way through the playoffs. Game four of its roundrobin series against the Bell Island Blues is scheduled to take place Feb. 23.
Having experience playing in both the Avalon and west coast leagues, Ryan says there is stronger parity amongst the teams in Deer Lake, Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor and Clarenville.
That parity was evident in the regular season records this year for those teams, as the first and fourth seeds were separated by only six wins. In the Avalon East Senior Hockey League, the dif- ference was 18 from first to fourth and 11 from first to third.
“ The spread in the points was so close that all the regular season games were really important (in the west coast league),” says Ryan of last years experience with the Cataracts.
“I think this year, though, the top teams in the east are just as competitive as the top teams in the west.”
Last year’s Cataracts team was a young, fast group, according to Ryan. The team is the topseed this year in the west coast, and though he has not watched any games himself, Ryan says he has heard from others that the Cataracts are small in stature but have added more speed to its lineup.
“I talked to a few players from Corner Brook and Deer Lake, and they said Grand Falls keeps coming at you and coming at you.”
Ryan is only now returning to 100 per cent after Mount Pearl Blades forward Colin Power came at him with a hard hit in the last regular season game between the top two teams from the east.
“I was skating this morning (Feb. 17) at Twin Rinks (in St. John’s), and this is the first week I’m able to shoot the puck comfortably without any pain.”
Assuming the CeeBee Stars defeat Bell Island, Ryan says the most important thing for the team to have playoff success is to stay healthy. The CeeBees are still dealing with injuries to Shane Gamberg, Daniel Sparkes, Chad Parsons and Chris Bartlett.
“The key for us is to get everyone back healthy and in game shape.”