Avalon team con­fi­dent head­ing in Games

The Compass - - ORTHTE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

If noth­ing else, the Avalon boys’ ball hockey team for the 2012 New­found­land and Labrador Sum­mer Games will be well con­di­tioned when the Games kick off this Satur­day,Aug. 18 in the towns of Har­bour Grace and Car­bon­ear.

The team, fea­tur­ing play­ers from Job’s Cove to Pla­cen­tia, has been in place since last De­cem­ber and has been run­ning reg­u­lar prac­tices at the Up­per Is­land Cove Re­cre­ation Cen­tre since then.

In com­par­i­son, the host team led by head coach Matthew Thomey, had a mere 10 weeks to pre­pare for the Games.

Head coach Neil Shute said the length of time the team has been to­gether will give them a big ad­van­tage over the other teams.

“Our big­gest ad­van­tage is that we are go­ing to be in shape,” he said.

Shute said some of his play­ers are al­ready in shape af­ter a gru­el­ing win­ter on the ice.

“A lot of our play­ers have ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing ice hockey, so they were in pretty good shape to be­gin with,” he said.

All of the play­ers are part of ei­ther the Cee­Bees mi­nor or Bay Arena mi­nor hockey as­so­ci­a­tions.

Even though many of his play­ers were in ice hockey shape, Shute said he has seen an im­prove­ment from De­cem­ber till now in the ath­lete’s con­di­tion­ing.

Chris­tian Dawe, of Up­per Is­land Cove, said the team has re­ally come to­gether since the be­gin­ning of train­ing camp.

“For a group of play­ers who have never played to­gether, we’re do­ing pretty good,” he said. “We’ve come a long way.”

Dawe re-it­er­ated what Shute said about the team’s con­di­tion­ing — it will be a team strength.

“It’s go­ing to be an ad­van­tage for us,” said Dawe. “I don’t think any other team is go­ing to be as con­di­tioned as we will.”

Ex­hi­bi­tion dom­i­na­tion

The team saw its first ac­tion over the July 15 week­end when it met the con­tin­gent from Con­cep­tion Bay South in the re­gional qualifiers to de­cide who would rep­re­sent the Avalon re­gion at the Games.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Up­per Is­land Cove took care of busi­ness in the play downs, up­end­ing CBS in two games and claim­ing the right to rep­re­sent the Avalon in the Games.

“I think we’re strong and it showed,” said Dawe.

Since the qual­i­fier, the team has met the host team in three ex­hi­bi­tion games at the S.W. Moores Memo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace, which Dawe said his team has won “by three or four goals.”

“Ev­ery­one is com­ing to­gether,” he said.

Putting in sys­tems

One thing the long train­ing camp has al­lowed for the newly-minted Avalon rep­re­sen­ta­tives to do is make sure their style of play is what the coaches want the team to play.

“We want to be a hard team to play against,” said coach Brian Gree­ley.

He said the team is go­ing to try and be the first to the ball ev­ery time, with aims to keep­ing it down low.

“We want to win ev­ery one-onone bat­tle,” added Gree­ley.

The coaches rec­og­nize they do not want to play a fi­nesse game.

With a mere few days un­til the open­ing of the Games, Shute is con­fi­dent in his team’s abil­i­ties.

“Af­ter hav­ing back-to-back wins in the qual­i­fier, our kids are con­fi­dent that they can play a level high enough to win,” he said.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Photo sub­mit­ted by Brian Dono­van

The Avalon boys’ ball hockey team for the 2012 New­found­land and Labrador Sum­mer Games has gone un­de­feated in all of its ex­hi­bi­tion lead­ing up to the Games. Mem­bers of the team are: floor (l-r) — Brady Adams and Brent Hat­field (Since photo was taken Hat­field left for base­ball and has been re­placed by Ri­ley Akerman); mid­dle — Macken­zie Dob­bin, Jor­dan Coombs, Josh Rodgers, Chris­tian Dawe, Ryan Daw­son and Matthew Sparkes; back — coach Neil Shute, coach Brian Gree­ley, Noah Dono­van, Joel Pet­ten, Evan Mil­ley, Ryan Glavine, Rod­ney Slade, Daniel Slade, An­drew Roberts, Bradley Adams and man­ager Robert Clarke. Trainer Evan Mil­ley and wa­ter­boy Ri­ley Shute were un­av­i­l­able for photo.

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