Tri Pen team pre­par­ing for At­lantics

Team books ticket to 2014 Bell Aliant pee­wee AAA At­lantic Cham­pi­onship

The Compass - - SPORTS - nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.

The tour­na­ment

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.

The cham­pi­onship

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.

Photo by Joe Gib­bons/Transcon­ti­nen­tal Me­dia

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).

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