Cee­bees to host Cats

Two-game week­end se­ries a crit­i­cal test for Har­bour Grace team

The Compass - - ORTHTE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.”

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