Striv­ing for con­sis­tency

Stars, Fly­ers ex­pect­ing bet­ter sec­ond half in ju­nior league

The Compass - - PORTHTE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

En­ter­ing the Christ­mas break, The Trinity-placentia Ju­nior Fly­ers and the Con­cep­tion Bay North Ju­nior Stars are tied for sixth in the St. John’s Ju­nior Hockey League.

Fly­ers bench boss Eu­gene Hutch­ings said he feels pretty good about his team head­ing into the break.

“We got off to a slow start, but we’ve been play­ing bet­ter lately,” he said.

With six wins, 10 losses and one over­time loss as of late last week, the Fly­ers have col­lected 13 points out of a pos­si­ble 34.

In­con­sis­tency has a ten­dency to dog teams if they can­not find the right for­mula, and for Hutch­ings, that ap­plies to his squad.

“We have a good game and then we have three not-so- good games. It is all about be­liev­ing in them­selves and we’ll be fine.”

“We have a good game and then we have three not-so-good games,” he said.

Hutch­ings would like to see con­sec­u­tive games where his team shows in­creased ef­fort and re­silience.

“It is all about be­liev­ing in them­selves and we’ll be fine,” he said.

The coach points to lead­ers like Paul Hutch­ings, Dar­rin Wilkins and Jeremy Ni­cholas as key cogs in achiev­ing the con­sis­tency he strives for.

Each player is in the top-15 in league scor­ing.

“They re­ally are play­ers who the young guys can look up too,” said Hutch­ings.

To date, Ni­cholas leads the Fly­ers in goals with 15 and points with 34, and a tie for sec­ond spot in the scor­ing race with St. John’s Cap­i­tals player Mike King.

Up and down

Con­cep­tion Bay North Ju­nior Stars coach An­drew Han­ley and gen­eral man­ager Brian Hur­ley both agree the team has ex­pe­ri­enced an up and down sea­son through the first 18 games.

“We got off to a slow start, but we are in the mid­dle of the pack,” said Han­ley.

The team has had trou­ble keep­ing the same lineup on the ice.

“We’ve had some in­juries to deal with, as well as penal­ties,” the coach said.

Hur­ley said there were play­ers who were sup­posed to play but for var­i­ous rea­sons will not be suit­ing up for the team.

“We are dis­ap­pointed that some of the play­ers we were hop­ing to re­turn did not play,” he said. “Play­ers like Michael An­drews, Dustin Flight and Jake Gail­braith did not re­turn for var­i­ous rea­son.”

Like his team, Han­ley has ex­pe­ri­enced his own per­sonal peaks and val­leys to the start of the sea­son.

“Coach­ing is a big change,” said Han­ley.

It has been Han­ley’s first turn at run­ning a team be­hind the bench.

“It was a tran­si­tion and has taken some get­ting used too,” he said.

Be­tween the pipes

Matthew Power has stood tall in the Fly­ers’ goal for 11 of his team’s first 17 games.

Hutch­ings said his puck stop­per has be­gun to show signs of reach­ing his full po­ten­tial.

“He just has to start be­liev­ing in him­self,” the coach noted.

Hutch­ings has the ut­most faith in his goal­tender head­ing into the sec­ond half of the sea­son. He be­lieves Power has the abil­ity to

Look­ing for a strong sec­ond half

steal a cou­ple of games for the Whit­bourne based team.

In Bay Roberts, Han­ley be­lieves his team can win with ei­ther Ja­son Penney or David Fuller­ton in goal.

“We have two strong goalies,” he said.

Fuller­ton, at the half-way mark of the sea­son, sits in the Top-10 for goal­tenders with a 4.23 goals against av­er­age (GAA).

Both teams are look­ing to find con­sis­tency in their game af­ter the Christ­mas break ends Jan. 6 when the two teams square off at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts.

“We have a good core, it is just a mat­ter of get­ting more con­sis­tent,” said Han­ley.

Hutch­ings would like to see his squad to turn in a 9-3 record over the fi­nal 12 games of the sea­son.

“It is a pretty reach­able ac­com­plish­ment,” he said.

Hutch­ings said his team would need to find some con­sis­tency, win a cou­ple of games and then “build from there,” in or­der to reach the goal he has set for them.

Han­ley said pretty much the same thing when dis­cussing his team.

“We’re hop­ing to string a cou­ple of wins to­gether head­ing into the play­offs,” he said.

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