Short-benched Beothics swept by Combines
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.”