Osprey ready to fly at Bay Arena

Ma­jor midget hockey ac­tion set for Oct. 19-20 in Bay Roberts

The Compass - - SPORTS - BYNICHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

It is Oct. 2 at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts. The sharp cut of blades on ice and the thud of a puck against the glass re­ver­ber­ate and fill the frigid air in­side the sta­dium.

To any hockey afi­cionado, they are fa­mil­iar and wel­com­ing sounds.

Glid­ing around the ice is the newly formed Tri Pen Osprey of the New­found­land and Labrador Ma­jor Midget League.

Dur­ing the Osprey prac­tices, play­ers are al­ways in mo­tion. Head coach By­ron Vatcher is push­ing his charges through their paces. With each sharp shrill of the whis­tle, a cadre of play­ers take off down the ice, puck in tow.

Dur­ing a break in the ac­tion, goal­tend­ing coach Ja­son MacIssac works with keep­ers Ri­ley Ak­er­man and Jeremy Freake.

The Osprey are gear­ing up for their first se­ries at the Bay Arena this weekend, with the Satur­day, Oct. 19 game sched­uled to be­gin at 8:30 p.m., and Sun­day’s con­test sched­uled for 10 a.m.

“We’re ex­pect­ing an in­ter­est­ing weekend,” said man­ager Scott Ak­er­man.

For the first home se­ries, the Osprey will wel­come the St. John’s Pri­va­teers.

The team al­ready has one im­pres­sive win, hav­ing split a pair of games against the St. John’s Maple Leafs on Sept. 28-29.

The team fol­lowed that up with a weekend split against the Western Kings at the Clarenville Event Cen­tre in the team’s home opener.

“Ev­ery­thing is pos­i­tive,” said Ak­er­man. “We’re work­ing through a few in­juries here and there, but ev­ery team is do­ing the same.”

Com­ing to­gether

The Osprey are made up of play­ers from feeder as­so­ci­a­tions in Bay Roberts, Har­bour Grace, Whit­bourne, Pla­cen­tia, Clarenville, Bon­av­ista and Marys­town.

As it is with any team that draws play­ers from so many dif­fer­ent re­gions, there could be grow­ing pains when it comes to team chem­istry. How­ever, Ak­er­man said the team has been show­ing pos­i­tive signs in that depart­ment.

“They’re start­ing to gel,” he said. “It’s a good en­vi­ron­ment around the dress­ing room.”

Get­ting all play­ers out for prac­tice is an im­por­tant part of any team com­ing to­gether on the ice. The com­mit­ment level has to be there. It was a prob­lem for the pre­vi­ous two ma­jor midget teams in the re­gion. So far, that has not been a prob­lem. “The com­mit­ment from th­ese kids has been there,” said Ak­er­man. “We’re get­ting most ev­ery­one out to prac­tice.”

For $5, ma­jor midget hockey is a great en­ter­tain­ment re­turn on a rather mea­gre in­vest­ment from the fans.

“We’ve got a good pace and it’s go­ing to be a good game of com­pet­i­tive hockey here at the Bay Arena,” he said.

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