Osprey midgets perch in Moncton
Coach says tournament an important team-building experience
Players with the Tri Pen Osprey major midget club were set to receive a crash course in experience this past weekend.
The team was in Moncton, New Brunswick for the annual Monctonian Challenge midget hockey tournament Nov. 14-17.
Feautring 29 teams, the Monctonian brings together some of the finest midget-aged talent from across Eastern Canada.
The Osprey compete in the New- foundland and Labrador Major Midget League with the St. John’s Maple Leafs, St. John’s Privateers, Central IcePak and the Western Kings.
Each team was registered in the Monctonian, but in different divisions.
In the Osprey’s division, the team was lumped in with Saint John Vitos of New Brunswick, Ontario Hockey Academy Gold of Cornwall, and the Cape Breton West Islanders of Port Hood, Nova Scotia.
Head coach Byron Vatcher said Thursday his players would benefit greatly from playing in the high level tournament.
“A lot of these boys haven’t had this opportunity,” he said. “It’s a lot of experience.”
Vatcher said the tournament would be a good measuring stick for the young Osprey.
“It’s going to give the boys an idea of where they have to go,” he said.
Heading into the tournament, Vatcher was looking to see his team’s consistency level rise.
“Everybody would like to compete,” he said. “It’d be nice if the boys can pull out a couple of wins.
In its first game on Nov. 14, Tri Pen dropped a close 3-1 decision to OHA Gold. Coley’s Point’s Christian Dawe had the lone goal, while Francis Pittman of Fox Harbour and Nathanial Duffett of Port Union had the assists.
Goaltender Riley Akerman of Bay Roberts got the start in goal. He spent last season at the Ontario Hockey Academy.
Results of other Osprey games were not available prior to deadline.
For a team like the Osprey, the Monctonian does not only offer valuable on-ice experience. It is also an ideal situation for a team to come together off the ice.
The Osprey feature players from many associations, including those based in Harbour Grace, Bay Roberts, Whitbourne, Placentia, Clarenville, Bonavista and Marystown.
With a driving distance of several hundred kilometres between the various associations, players do not get to spend much time with each other.
Whether it is travelling on the bus from the Stanfield International Airport in Halifax to Moncton, or spending the weekend together, bonds between teammates become stronger.
“The friendships get a little better,” said Vatcher.
This bonding off the ice will undoubtedly have a profound effect on the ice for the Osprey.
The Osprey (3-5-2) sit in fourth place heading into this weekend’s action with the St. John’s Privateers on Nov. 23-24.
Vatcher believes the Monctonian will help set up the rest of the team’s season.
“A lot of it is confidence,” he said. “The players have to believe in themselves.”
Tri Pen Osprey goaltender Riley Akerman fights with Patrick Pilon (43) of the St. John’s Privateers during major midget action at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts on Oct. 19. Both the Osprey and the Privateers were in Moncton last weekend at the Monctonian Challenge tournament.