Coach has pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on Ceebees

Up­com­ing se­ries with Mount Pearl a cru­cial en­counter

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER re­sults from games sched­uled for Feb. 4 and 5 against Clarenville were un­avail­able prior to The Com­pass dead­line.

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.”

Week­end re­sults

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.

Photo by Kathy Gosse/transcon­ti­nen­tal Me­dia

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.

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