Tri Pen ready to ice com­pe­ti­tion

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

High-level hockey coaches are al­ways look­ing for sur­prises.

For them, sur­prises are a good thing, es­pe­cially in try­outs.

It can make the se­lec­tion process more of a headache than it al­ready is, but ev­ery coach will tell you they wel­come the un­ex­pected.

The same goes for Tri Pen Ice ban­tam AAA team coach Nel­son Ben­nett. When his team held try­outs in Clarenville last month, there were play­ers who came out of left field, so to speak.

“There were kids who re­ally wanted to make this team,” the coach said. “There were some bat­tles.”

The Ice draw play­ers from mi­nor hockey as­so­ci­a­tions in Bay Roberts, Clarenville, Bon­av­ista, Marys­town, Pla­cen­tia, Whit­bourne and Har­bour Grace.

Even­tu­ally, Ben­nett and his staff se­lected the 19 play­ers who would make up the Ice in the in­au­gu­ral provin­cial ban­tam AAA league sea­son.

Last week­end, the team played its kick­off tour­na­ment and fin­ished with a record of three wins and one loss. The sole de­feat came at the hands of Tri Com.

“We know we’re right there,” said Ben­nett. “The league looks su­per. “It’s a good place to be.” Teams with play­ers sep­a­rated by large dis­tances some­times strug­gle with chem­istry. Play­ers take a lit­tle longer to be­come fa­mil­iar with each other and that can hurt a team in the long run.

Ben­nett does not fore­see that hap­pen­ing with his squad. Many of them have played to­gether on AAA teams in the past and know what to ex­pect from each other.

“We don’t see that be­ing an is­sue at all,” he said. “The ded­i­ca­tion th­ese guys have shown whether it was this year or last year … th­ese guys have al­ways been will­ing to go the ex­tra mile and we’re just look­ing for­ward to start­ing prac­tice.”

A large num­ber of play­ers were a part of the Tri Pen pee­wee AAA team that cap­tured the At­lantic cham­pi­onship last sea­son.

Mem­bers of the team are: Zachary Ben­nett, Ma­son Oates, Kyle Pet­ten, Daw­son Mercer, Ri­ley Pet­ten, Tris­tan Grey, Luke Ak­er­man, Kyle Tet­ford, Shai­lynn Snow, Liam Leonard, Liam Shea, Chandler War­ren, Ja­cob Evans, Ethan Cros­bie, Matthew Brown, Liam Best, Colin Jones, Lu­cas Rus­sell and Ethan Pol­lett.

As­so­ci­ated play­ers are Matthew Ak­er­man, Daw­son Laun­dry, Josh Neil and Jor­dan Ja­cobs.

Ad­van­tage in the goal

Goal­tend­ing might be the big­gest as­set for the Ice. All three — Ri­ley Pet­ten, Tris­tan Grey and as­so­ci­ated keeper Jor­dan Ja­cobs — have ex­pe­ri­ence at the provin­cial level.

Pet­ten one of the un­der-14 goal­tenders, while Grey and Ja­cobs are the un­der-15 goal­tend­ing tan­dem.

All three are headed to the At­lantic Chal­lenge Cup this week­end in Monc­ton, N.B.

“No mat­ter what hap­pens, we feel we’re in re­ally good shape goal­tend­ing-wise,” said Ben­nett.

Strengths

A hand­ful of games at the start of the sea­son may not be enough to know what a team does well and what it does not.

How­ever when asked, Ben­nett of­fered a cou­ple of points.

“We support each other well,” he said.

The sec­ond was kill.

“We do that very well,” said Ben­nett.

The pow­er­play needs a lit­tle work, but four games into the sea­son that is too be ex­pected.

“We’re putting in some pieces we haven’t used be­fore,” said the coach.

All in all, Ben­nett is ex­cited for the sea­son to get un­der­way.

The Ice will hold its home opener at the Trin­ity-Pla­cen­tia Sta­dium in Whit­bourne on Oct. 18. There will be two games played at the sta­dium — an af­ter­noon mati­nee fol­lowed by an evening game.

The Bay Arena in Bay Roberts will host a third game on Oct. 19.

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Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Tri Pen Ice ban­tam AAA coach Nel­son Ben­nett.

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