Osprey ready to fly at Bay Arena
Major midget hockey action set for Oct. 19-20 in Bay Roberts
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.”
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.