Num­bers game

Short-benched Beoth­ics swept by Com­bines

The Compass - - SPORTS - BYMATT MOL­LOY mmol­loy@gan­der­bea­con.ca Twit­ter: @Bea­conS­ports12

The Twi l lin­gate Com­bines outscored a short-benched Straight Shore Beoth­ics squad 14-5 over the weekend to close out 2013 with a three-game win­ning streak.

On Satur­day night in Twill­ingate, the Com­bines got a pair of goals from Kris­tian Green­ham and Jeremy Ni­cholas, plus sin­gles from Lu­cas Dear­ing, Jor­dan Bath, and Josh Maye, en route to a 7-1 win. Craig Loder scored the lone goal for Straight Shore.

The game was closer on Sun­day but thanks to another two-goal per­for­mance from Ni­cholas — along with sin­gles from Bath, Dear­ing, Maye, John Hull, and cap­tain Shel­don Brown — the home­town Com­bines skated away with the sweep, thanks to a 7-4 win. Bruce Glover scored twice for the Beoth­ics in the loss, while Blake Strat­ton and Travis Ride­out also found the back of the net.

With the sweep, the Com­bines im­proved their record to 5-5-0-2, and are now tied with the Lewis­porte Sea­hawks for sec­ond in the Cen­tral New­found­land Hockey League standings with 12 points.

“We had a bit of a bad start at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, but then we started to pick it up. Over our last three games we’ve earned six points, so we’re tied with Lewis­porte right now for sec­ond,” said Stewart Froude, head coach of the Twill­ingate Com­bines. “We had a lit­tle trou­ble with our ice at the be­gin­ning of the year, and it took some time for us to get our legs go­ing, but since we got go­ing it’s been great for our team. We have a good lineup there and we have a lot of num­bers to work with. When you can put be­tween 15 and 19 guys in the lineup you’re sit­ting pretty good.”

The Com­bines had plenty of fire­power in the lineup, in­clud­ing Ni­cholas, who has recorded two goals and two as­sists in 11 games this sea­son with the Mount Pearl HJ Bartlett Elec­tric Blades of the pro­vin­cial se­nior hockey league.

The Twill­ingate squad also wel­comed Travis Ran­dell, who is play­ing for the Aca­dia Univer­sity Ax­e­men of the AUS (At­lantic Univer­sity Sport), and has 316 games un­der his belt in five sea­sons (2005-’07) with the Halifax Moose­heads of the QMJHL (Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League).

Dear­ing also has pro­vin­cial se­nior hockey league ex­pe­ri­ence, as well as ex­pe­ri­ence in the St. John’s Ju­nior Hockey League.

With all that fire­power, not in­clud­ing the play­ers that dress for the team on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, the Com­bines outscored the Beoth­ics over the two games 14-5.

“We have a good lineup there. We had a few of the boys come out, and they’ve played hockey for years with the rest of the team, so when that hap­pens you make the game a lit­tle eas­ier for your­self…and it makes my job a lot eas­ier,” Froude said with a laugh.

It’s been a dif­fer­ent story for the Beoth­ics this sea­son, who have had trou­ble ic­ing a full ros­ter at times over its open­ing 10 games of the sea­son.

In fact, the team never had any coaches be­hind the bench in Twill­ingate, and played both games with two even lines of 10 play­ers. What the team lacked in num­bers it made up for in heart, which made Loder, who wore the cap­tain’s ‘C’ in the ab­sence of Cory Strat­ton, proud.

“The pos­i­tives are we have a lot of com­mit­ted and ded­i­cated play­ers, but the prob­lem is they’re grinders. God love them, but it’s no good to have 10 bod­ies like my­self. You need your goal scor­ers. You need your (Cory and Troy) Strat­tons, you need your (Kris) Black­mores, you need your Bran­don Bur­rys be­cause those guys put the puck in the net,” said Loder. “We came here to­day (Sun­day) with 10 play­ers and they had about 20 play­ers on the ros­ter, so to lose by three and we had a goal called back, we’re proud of that. We had no coach, no as­sis­tant coach; I’ve been on the phone the whole week and I’ve prob­a­bly con­tacted every­body who has ever put on a pair of skates be­tween Port aux Basques and Que­bec.”

Just like the pro­vin­cial se­nior league, the CNHL has play­ers with var­i­ous work, school and fam­ily com­mit­ments, so line­ups can change from week to week.

Over the weekend, the Beoth­ics were with­out lead­ing point get­ters Cory and Troy Strat­ton, plus An­drew Nor­ris (in­jury), Jeremy Humphries, Mitchell Humphries, Ryan Par­sons, Alex Gill, and Ron­nie Tiller, who played Satur­day night, but couldn’t make it on Sun­day.

The Straight Shore crew was able to keep both games close in the early stages, as Satur­day’s game was tied 1-1 af­ter one pe­riod, and Sun­day’s was tied 2-2 af­ter the first.

How­ever, as both games pro­gressed, the Com­bines’ depth started to pay off.

“To be hon­est with you, I’m not used to play­ing ev­ery sec­ond shift. Ev­ery­one’s legs are like lead, but you know what, I’m re­ally proud of the boys,” said Loder. “We could have eas­ily packed in it with 10 bod­ies, and our top-five for­wards aren’t here. We could have packed it in, but the boys gave it their all. We blocked shots, had a good power play and penalty kill…I’m happy with the ef­fort.”

Loder is hope­ful a few more play­ers will be added to the Beoth­ics’ ros­ter af­ter Christ­mas, while Froude hopes his team’s hot streak con­tin­ues.

Loder con­fi­dently be­lieves the Beoth­ics can get hot in 2014 and make a push to the play­offs, while the head coach of the Com­bines is hop­ing his team con­tin­ues to climb the standings.

“There are boys work­ing out west and off­shore, so that’s why we have big num­bers and that’s why we al­ways have a full lineup. We have 25 or 30 play­ers that can step in any­time,” said Froude. “We had a few boys (who played over the weekend) that never played with the team a lot over the sea­son, but they’re home for Christ­mas, and I coached them over the years, so I wanted to get them in for a few games.”

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