Con­sis­tency key for Ju­nior Stars in sea­son’s sec­ond half

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

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.”

Steady Goal­tend­ing

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.

Com­pass file photo

CBN Ju­nior Stars’ for­ward Zach Laing leads the team in scor­ing through the team’s first 19 games with 19 points.

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