Tri Pen will face Western in the first round

The Compass - - SPORTS - Nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The Osprey will be look­ing for a bet­ter play­off re­sult than last sea­son. In its first round se­ries with the Cen­tral IcePak, Tri Pen won the first game but went on to drop the next four games of the se­ries.

“There is a lot of men­tal prepa­ra­tion that goes into it,” said Ak­er­man. “We’ve have to have con­fi­dence.

The Osprey hope to ad­vance into the sec­ond round of the post sea­son this year, and re­cent re­sults in games played against the Kings sug­gest that goal is achiev­able.

Since drop­ping a pair of lop­sided de­ci­sions to the Kings in Septem­ber, the Osprey are win­ners in four of the last six meet­ings be­tween the pair. That in­cludes a 4-1 vic­tory on Jan. 17.

“Any time you get into a seven game se­ries, things es­ca­late,” said Ak­er­man. “Dis­ci­pline will be key. You have to find that line and learn not to cross it, be­cause it can be costly.”

Match­ing phys­i­cally

The Kings bring a phys­i­cal brand of hockey to the rink day in and day out. They like to forecheck ag­gres­sively and put their heels in the de­fen­sive end.

The key to break­ing this is mov­ing the puck quickly to off­set the pres­sure and at­tack­ing the holes in cov­er­age.

“You’ve got to pre­pare for the phys­i­cal­ity,” said Ak­er­man. “A lot of teams come hard, but you have to counter with of­fence. We’ve got use our speed and quickly move the puck.”

Another as­pect of the Kings’ game in­volves their mo­bile de­fence corps. Fea­tur­ing reign­ing d-man of the year Jame Pen­ney and high scor­ing rear­guard Ryan Gil­lam, Western have de­fence­men who do not mind lead­ing or jump­ing into the rush when they have an ad­van­tage.

It cre­ates odd-man rushes that give op­po­nents fits.

The Osprey will have to rely on a strong backcheck to coun­ter­act the pinch­ing de­fence­men.

Ak­er­man has con­fi­dence in his team’s depth and be­lieves it could be the dif­fer­ence maker in the se­ries. The Osprey like to roll all four of their lines, two of which fea­ture six of the team’s top scor­ers.

teams on

“(The Kings) cer­tainly have to match our lineup,” said Ak­er­man. “We have a lot of depth on this team.”

Award win­ners

At the league’s awards gala on Jan. 17, the Osprey were the big win­ners as three mem­bers of the or­ga­ni­za­tion took home tro­phies.

First, hulk­ing for­ward Conal McNa­mara took home the well-de­served most valu­able player award. The power for­ward led the league in goals (24), points (47) and short­handed mark­ers (3), while plac­ing at the top or near the top in game win­ners, pow­er­play goals and as­sists.

Then, sec­ond-year for­ward Cass War­ren took home the award for most gen­tle­manly and ef­fec­tive player.

To con­clude a big night for the Osprey, Ak­er­man was named the league’s coach of the year. Un­der Ak­er­man, Tri Pen more than dou­bled its win to­tal from the pre­vi­ous year and jumped up one spot in the stand­ings.

“It is hum­bling to say the least,” he told The Com­pass. “There are so many coaches who could have got­ten the award.”

But for the coach, it is not about him­self, but “all about the team.”

“We’ve got a good foun­da­tion to build from,” said Ak­er­man.

The Osprey will meet the Kings at the Pepsi Cen­tre for the first two games of the se­ries Jan. 30-31.

Mean­while, two of the three home games for Tri Pen in the se­ries are sched­uled for the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts Feb. 6-7.

Puck drop for both evenings is sched­uled for 7 p.m. A lo­ca­tion for the fifth game, if nec­es­sary, has not been fi­nal­ized.

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