Consistency key for Junior Stars in season’s second half
Consistency is the theme for the Conception Bay North Junior Stars heading into the second half of the St. John’s Junior Hockey League season.
Through injuries and suspensions, plus school and work commitments, the Stars (109) have used 32 different players in 19 games this year. The team that comes closest to the Stars on that front is the Trinity Placentia Junior Flyers with 29 different players used.
This has coach Rod Noseworthy and his staff working to find the best combinations on the fly. For the most part, it has worked out for the team, which sits in fourth spot in the eightteam league.
“It has been a good showing for us,” said Noseworthy. “We’ve been back-and-forth in games. It seems like we win one and then we lose one. It seems like we play better against the stronger teams.”
Still, the Stars have not iced a consistent lineup this season. Heading into the New Year, there are more holes to fill.
Backup goaltender Jordan Dray accepted a job in Alberta, joining veteran defenceman Zach Quinlan, and Lucas Goobie is heading to school in Ontario. Another veteran d-man, Evan Pittman, has been sidelined due to injury.
“It’s been very challenging, dealing with different lineups,” said Noseworthy. “This is especially challenging when it comes to different situations. We’ve got some young players and rookies and we’re hoping they do well.”
The Stars sit in the middle of the league and they are “right where we want to be,” according to the coach.
Heading into the second half, Noseworthy is looking for the ‘C’ word again.
“We’re looking for consistency. We’re looking to get our players all on the same page,” he said.
Mind the offence
If there is one thing the Stars have been good at this season, it is putting the puck in the net.
As a whole, CBN has found the back of their opponents net 79 times. That puts them third in the eight-team league behind the CBR Renegades (93) and the Avalon Capitals (85). That is good for just over four goals a game. Leading the offensive charge for the Stars has been forward Zack Laing. The Carbonear native is tops with 12 goals and seven assists.
Nestled in behind him is a pair 17-point scorers. Devon Whalen registered nine goals and eight assists at the halfway point of the season, while captain Andrew Smith notched four goals and 13 assists.
Last season’s top point getter Cody Batten (16 pts) and Bradley Budden (16 pts) round out the top spots.
“We’re getting offence from everybody,” noted Noseworthy. “We have seven or eight players with a dozen points.”
Keeping it out of the net
Noseworthy would like to see things shored up in the defensive end. The Stars sit in the middle of the pack when it comes to goals against with 71.
They’ve allowed just fewer than four goals a game (3.7), which could help account for the team’s just-above .500 record. When teams allow just as many goals as they score, it’s a crapshoot attempting to guess who will come out on top in a game.
With some extra practice time, Noseworthy will look to shore up their defensive coverage and hopefully lower that goals against average (GAA).
“(The players) all know what to do in different situations,” he said. “It’s just reminding them.”
The goaltending duo of Mitchell Dobbin and Dray has been more solid than spectacular through the first half of the season.
Both have records close to .500, GAAs of under four and over 400 minutes logged between the pipes.
In fact, Dobbin leads the league in minutes played with 726. During that time he has posted a record of seven wins and five losses in 13 starts. He has posted a .900 save percentage to go along with a 3.47 GAA.
Dray on the other hand has a record of three wins and four losses with a GAA of 3.95 and a save percentage of .880.
“Dobbin has been playing well with us,” said Noseworthy. “He is dedicated and we’re not worried about him wearing down.”
The Stars started their climb up the standings over the weekend with a Jan. 4 tilt against the Northeast Celtics at the Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay — results were not known prior to deadline.
The team will next hook up with the Southern Shore Breakers at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts at 7:15 p.m. on Jan. 9. The Stars travel to Whitbourne this Sunday for a 2:30 p.m. game against the Trinity-Placentia Junior Flyers.
CBN Junior Stars’ forward Zach Laing leads the team in scoring through the team’s first 19 games with 19 points.