Tri Pen team preparing for Atlantics
Team books ticket to 2014 Bell Aliant peewee AAA Atlantic Championship
Not sure what to expect. That’s how members of the Tri Pen Ice are feeling as they prepare for the 2014 Bell Aliant peewee AAA Atlantic Championships, scheduled for March 27-30 in Fredericton, N.B.
There is a sense of the unknown as the team heads into a tournament that will feature some of the finest peewee-aged talent in the Atlantic provinces.
“We have no idea,” coach Nelson Bennett replied when asked how his team stacks up.
“I haven’t even had time to track down anyone who could fill me in,” he added.
The Ice punched its ticket to the championship after a 5-2 victory over the St. John’s Ruckus on Feb. 16 during provincial playdowns in the Goulds.
For Bennett and his team, this feeling of walking into an unusual situation evokes a range of emotions.
“It’s exciting and nervous at the same time,” he said.
That said, the Ice coaching staff has the utmost confidence in the abilities of their players.
The team features the best peewee players from minor hockey associations in Bay Roberts, Harbour Grace, Whitbourne, Clarenville and Marystown. This includes the only female playing at the AAA level — Shailynn Snow, along with other standouts such as Reilly Mayne, Luke Akerman, Kyle Petten, Dawson Mercer and Ethan Pollett, amongst others.
“I’d be shocked if there is anything better than what we can throw at people,” said Bennett. “I really think we’ll compete. I do.
“We have an amazing group.”
A big part
Perhaps the biggest storyline of the tournament was the return of assistant captain Ethan Crosbie to the lineup for the final two games of the tournament.
Crosbie had been sidelined with a pre-tournament injury. “He gives us such a presence,” said Bennett. Crosbie has a knack for chipping in offensively, but really shines at the defensive end. He plays in all situations, takes big faceoffs and shuts down the opposition’s top line.
“He completes our lineup,” said Bennett.
What they do well
While the team looks to shore things up in the defensive end in the weeks before the tournament, Bennett said the team does one thing extremely well — transitioning from defence to offense.
The Ice pride themselves on creating turnovers in the neutral zone, and quickly attacking the other team’s defence.
“We don’t like to give up our blue-line and our transition from defence to offense is lightning quick,” said Bennett.
What makes that transition so dangerous, is that each line is capable of making teams pay if they turn the puck over.
“It doesn’t matter which line because we have so much speed,” said Bennett.
Meanwhile, the Ice started the provincial playdowns with a 9-3 victory over the Western team. That was followed by an 8-0 drubbing over Central IcePak.
In Game 3, the Ice picked up its second straight shutout with a 10-0 destruction of the Northern squad.
The Ice were finally tested in the round robin matchup with the Ruckus. The St. John’s team defeated Tri Pen 6-5 to set up the dramatic final.
“We had a bad turnover,” said Bennett, referring to the eventual game winner.
That game was followed by a 7-2 victory over the Tri Com Cobras.
In the final, the Ice jumped on the Ruckus quickly, registered two quick unanswered goals. “You could just feel it,” said Bennett. However, the Ruckus had previously came back from a 3-1 deficit in the round robin to beat the Ice. “You didn’t feel safe at all,” said the coach. Although this time, the script would be different.
Tri Pen grabbed a four-goal advantage before St. John’s put one behind the Ice goaltender.
“We felt like we were well in control then,” said Bennett.
The Ruckus would make the score 4-2 with just over six minutes to go in the third, but the Ice would add an empty net goal to seal the victory.
Goals for the Ice came from Shailynn Snow, Kyle Petten (3) and Luke Akerman. Akerman and Dawson Mercer had assists. “It was a good game of hockey,” said Bennett. Members of the team are: Tyler Dohey, Kyle Petten, Dawson Mercer, Ethan Crosbie, Luke Akerman, Shailynn Snow, Reilly Mayne, Ethan Polett, Lucas Adams, Micheal Ingram, Riley Petten, Caleb Andrews, Mark Davis, Dawson Laundry, Taran Leonard, Tyler Green, Lucas Russell, Liam Best and Cole Mackey.
Tri Pen Ice players Dawson Mercer (left) and team captain Kyle Petten celebrate their team’s goal in the championship game of the provincial AAA peewee hockey championship Sunday, Feb. 16 at the Goulds Arena. The Ice defeated the St. John’s Ruckus 5-2 in the final to take the title, and will now represent the province at the Bell Aliant Cup Atlantic peewee championship March 27-30 in Fredericton, N.B. Tri Pen went 5-1 in the provincial tournament, its only loss coming to St. John’s (5-4).