Coach has positive influence on Ceebees
Upcoming series with Mount Pearl a crucial encounter
After taking two of three from the defending champion Grand FallsWindsor Cataracts and pushing the Clarenville Caribous to the limit Jan. 29, the Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars was starting to look like the team fans were expecting to see at the beginning of the season.
Earlier in the year, fans could be assured of a drop in intensity from the Ceebees for a stretch of time during a game.
Heading into action this past weekend, there had been no such drop-off since the calendar turned to 2012.
Where the giving up of a two-goal lead may have resulted in a drop in effort before Christmas, it seems to have different results with this current group of players.
Twice in recent games, the CeeBees squandered multi-goal first period leads, but did not collapse under the onslaught.
“I’m not going to say we have turned any corners yet, but have we made strides? Most certainly,” veteran Ceebees’ forward Keith Delaney stated Jan. 30.
“We are beginning to build a new identity for our team,” Delaney added.
Although Delaney would not elaborate, based on the early returns it will an identity forged in the fires of hard work and defensive strength.
The team has tightened up in its own end since the arrival of new head coach Corey Crocker in early January, and it’s starting to show in the team’s goal-against statistics. Under Crocker, the Ceebees had been surrending just 2.3 goals per game.
Delaney said Crocker has had a “tremendous impact on the moral and skill set of the team.”
Crocker has previously played senior hockey in Newfoundland, winning a Herder trophy with the Flatrock Flyers of the Avalon East Hockey League, and has been praised for his understanding of the makeup of a team.
“He is a very good coach who communicates expectations consistently at both an individual and team level,” said Delaney. “His professional approach to the game rubs off on the players.
“Corey has the support and respect of all players in the dressing room.”
The Ceebees kicked off a tough weekend late last month with a tilt against the Cataracts at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace, Jan. 28.
It was the first home game of the second half for the Ceebees, and the fans — some 800 strong, likely the largest crowd of the season — came out for a game of well-played hockey, with the Ceebees winning 4-3.
Donnie Gosse, Sean Wadden, Mike Dyke and Kyle Doucet scored for the Ceebees, while Andre Gill, with two, and Andrew Brennan replied for the Cats.
The win gave the club two wins out of the last three games against Grand Falls.
“We are excited about this new attitude in our dressing room, but by no means are we satisfied by winning two games against Grand Falls,” said Delaney. “We know we beat a very good hockey team, but we realize we have lots of work ahead of us to get where we want to be.”
On Jan. 29, the visiting Ceebees dropped a hard fought 6-5 decision to the high-flying Clarenville Caribous.
The Ceebees got two goals from Ray Dalton and singles from Wadden, Ryan Delaney and Matthew Thomey.
Freddie Diamond got the start in goal, surrendering six goals on 21 shots. It was his first start since Nov. 25.
The Ceebees are next in action this weekend when they play a an important home-and-home series against the Mount Pearl Blades, Feb. 10-11. Friday night’s game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Glacier in Mount Pearl, while Saturday’s affair sees puck drop at 7:30 p.m. at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace.
After this series, the Ceebees will see the Blades once more before finishing the season with three straight against the Corner Brook Royals.
Ceebees’ forward Ryan Delaney fights off a stick check from a Clarenville defender and makes a move on goaltender Devon O’brien during game action Jan. 29 at the Clarenville Event Centre.