Osprey mid­gets perch in Monc­ton

Coach says tour­na­ment an im­por­tant team-build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.

Team bond­ing

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.

Slump­ing 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.”

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

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.

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