Tri Pen Osprey soar­ing to ma­jor midget play­offs

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­

The TriPen Osprey are headed to the New­found­land and Labrador Ma­jor Midget Hockey League play­offs.

The team qual­i­fied for the play­offs on the sec­ond last day of the sea­son, dou­bling the Western Roy­als 6-3 to book their tick­ets to the sec­ond sea­son. Conal McNa­mara (2), Nathaniel Duf­fett (2), Ryan Daw­son and Adam Oates scored for the Osprey.

The game was part of the year-end tour­na­ment held in Lewis­porte Feb. 1-3.

“We were the only team to beat Western,” said head coach By­ron Vatcher.

Head­ing into the tour­na­ment, the Osprey were just two points up on the fifth place St. John’s Pri­va­teers for the fourth and fi­nal play­off spot.

TriPen and the Pri­va­teers both failed to win in their open­ing games of the tour­na­ment.

The Osprey dropped tight one-goal games to the Cen­tral Ice Pak (3-2) and the St. John’s Maple Leafs (4-3) be­fore the Western vic­tory. They would de­feat the Pri­va­teers 3-1 to end the tour­ney.

Goal­tenders Ri­ley Ak­er­man and Jonathan Freake were sub­lime, sur­ren­der­ing a slim 11 goals over the course of the tour­na­ment.

“The boys com­peted all weekend,” said Vatcher.

With their play­off spot se­cured, the Osprey com­pleted both of its goals for this sea­son — com­pete and make the play­offs.

“It’s a good feel­ing,” said the coach.

Great ex­pe­ri­ence

The Osprey are a young team and take in play­ers from many mi­nor as­so­ci­a­tions, in­clud­ing those based in Har­bour Grace, Bay Roberts, Whit­bourne, Pla­cen­tia, Clarenville, Bon­av­ista and Marys­town.

Vatcher said com­pet­ing in the pro­vin­cial league was good ex­pe­ri­ence for his young charges.

“For some, it was a dif­fer­ent style of hockey,” he noted.

The Osprey have come a long way since the first weekend of the sea­son.

With each weekend, the play­ers have grown as a team. There may have been some grow­ing pains at the be­gin­ning, but those do not show up as of­ten any­more.

“The team has re­ally come to­gether,” said Vatcher. “They’re start­ing to lis­ten.”

It’s a good feel­ing. — By­ron Vatcher

Gear­ing up Cen­tral

A daunt­ing task awaits the Osprey in the first round of the play­offs, where it will meet the first place Cen­tral Ice Pak.

“We have to build off the mo­men­tum from last weekend,” said Vatcher.

The Osprey is win­less against the Ice Pak this sea­son, hav­ing dropped all six games be­tween the clubs.

How­ever, the dif­fer­ences be­tween the two teams have been be­tween one and two goals. “We can play with them,” said Vatcher. The coach said his team rel­ishes the un­der­dog sta­tus.

“Th­ese are the kinds of games the boys have some­thing to reach for,” he said.

The feel­ing is the Osprey have closed the gap be­tween the two teams in re­cent months and fans could be in for a barn­burner of a se­ries.

“We’re go­ing to come in with some­thing to prove,” said Vatcher. “We have noth­ing to lose and ev­ery­thing to gain.”

The Osprey and Ice Pak get things started Feb. 15-16 at the Lewis­porte Sta­dium be­fore com­ing home for three games Feb. 21-23. It is un­clear whether the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts will host all three games, but the fi­nal two will be played there.

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Adam Oates of the TriPen Osprey (left) gets set for a face­off with Nick Roberts of the St. John’s Maple Leafs on Dec. 15 at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts. The Osprey are headed to the play­offs start­ing Feb. 15-16 in Lewis­porte.

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