Ceebees to host Cats
Two-game weekend series a critical test for Harbour Grace team
The Dec. 10 date between the Conception Bay North Ceebee Stars and the Grand Falls-windsor Cataracts is a game that has been circled on the calendars of CeeBees’ players and their fans for some time.
It will mark the first time a senior team from Grand Falls-windsor has played a regular season game in Harbour Grace in roughly 40 years. The two teams battled it out in last year’s Herder Memorial Trophy final, with the Cats sweeping the series in four games. However, the Ceebees played home games at the much- larger Mile Once Centre in St. John’s.
“Their fans got to see the Herder final in their own rink, and ours had to travel,” said Ceebees’ assistant coach Peter George. “It didn’t really feel like we had them in our home rink at all.”
This season, during an encounter at the Joe Byrne Memorial Arena in Grand Falls-windsor late last month, the Cats again humbled the Ceebees, skating to a 5-2 victory on home ice.
The struggling Ceebees will be looking for redemption when the two two teams square off at S. W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace on Dec. 10 (7:30 p.m.) and Dec. 11 (2:30 p.m.).
“We are excited to get another crack at them, especially in front of our fans and in our own barn,” said George.
Despite a slow start to the season, Ceebees’ veteran and leading scorer Keith Delaney insisted his team can compete with the Cataracts.
“As long as I’ve been playing hockey, I’ve always believed any team can beat anyone else on any given night,” Delaney said. “We have that attitude and we believe we can compete.”
George feels the Ceebees are a better team on Harbour Grace ice.
“At Mile One, it is harder for players to get into the game, with such a big rink you can’t really hear your fans as much as in your own,” he said.
Home rink knowledge
In the Herder final, George said the Cataracts “used their rink to their advantage.”
It is something the Ceebees will be looking to take advantage of in their own stadium.
“There are certain aspects that you learn about your home rink over the years from playing and practicing,” said George.
Knowing how a puck may play off of the boards, or some of the bounces in the corners and the end boards could give one team the advantage necessary to get the victory.
George acknowledged knowing the bounces could be beneficial to the team, but “is it going to make that much of a difference? I’m not sure.”
A full lineup
Heading into the matchup two weeks ago, George said his team was banged up and missing a couple of key players — Dan Curran and Mike Dyke.
Dyke was out of the lineup because of a head injury sustained the previous night in Corner Brook.
“I was very impressed with how our defence stepped up and gave us a chance to win,” said George.
With both Curran and Dyke expected to return to the lineup for this past weekend’s games with Mount Pearl and Clarenville, George feels good about the team’s defence heading into the series with the Cataracts.
“With Dyke and Curran returning … I think you will see a significant boost,” he said.
Curran, in particular, will be key in stopping the Grand Falls attack.
“He is an excellent defenceman that opposing forwards hate to play against,” George said.
An honest effort
Heading into action this past weekend, the Ceebees were mired in a five-game losing streak and sat last in the five-team Newfoundland Senior Hockey League.
General Manager Kenny Hunt attributed much of the Ceebees’ struggles to the team’s inability to put together a complete game.
“We haven’t played three full periods yet,” he said.
George added: “I’d like to see us start to play desperate.”
“We are excited to get another crack at them, especially in front of our fans and in our own barn.”
During the slide, fans have begun to point fingers as to the reasons for the lack of success this season.
George has a favourite saying that he applied to the situation.
“Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan,” he said. “A lot of people are quick to judge, but the main thing is to continue to work hard.
“If we give a full 60- minute effort and stay out of the box, we will be fine.”