De­fence comes first for Tri Pen ban­tam Ice

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

When the Tri Pen ban­tam Ice hit the ice, their goal is to de­fend for 200 feet.

That means when they do not have the puck, they are putting pres­sure on their op­po­si­tion from one end of the rink to the other. It is a strat­egy that has helped the team to a record of 17 wins, three losses and two ties in the New­found­land and Labrador Ban­tam AAA league.

Over those 22 games, the Ice have al­lowed just 32 goals, far and away the fewest num­ber of goals amongst the league’s five teams.

“When we’re on the ice, all five guys are de­fend­ing,” said coach Nel­son Ben­nett. “We fo­cus on the de­fence-first (ap­proach) ev­ery game with the theme that goals will come. We ap­proached that in the first game of the year and the last game we played.”

De­fence in hockey, as it is in many sports, re­lies on the com­plete co-op­er­a­tion of all work­ing parts. The for­wards must work with the de­fence­men and vicev­ersa.

If just one cog is out of sync with the rest, the ma­chine fails and the re­sult is a puck in the back of your net.

“We have five guys who come back in our zone, who are ex­pected to come back in our zone and play D, block shots and get on the other side of the puck,” said Ben­nett. “The whole (group) works.”

Per­son­nel on the ice dic­tates what the plan is for clear­ing the zone when the Ice get the chance. When some of the team’s more skilled play­ers are in­volved, the game plan is de­fend and then at­tack at the near­est op­por­tu­nity.

When other play­ers are on the ice, that changes. The Ice aim to get the puck out of their end and force the op­po­nent to try and beat their de­fence a sec­ond time.

Judg­ing by the num­ber of goals al­lowed through 22 games, this strat­egy has been more than suc­cess­ful.

Solid goal­tend­ing Help­ing the Ice in their de­fen­sive stance is the play of goal­tenders Ri­ley Pet­ten and Tris­tan Gray. Look­ing at num­bers, the pair are eerily sim­i­lar.

Com­pass file photo

Tri Pen ban­tam Ice goal­tender Ri­ley Pet­ten watches the play in the cor­ner dur­ing provin­cial ban­tam ac­tion in this Com­pass file photo.

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