Peewee Ice set to begin playoffs
The Tri Pen peewee AAA Ice are headed to the provincial league playoffs after finishing the regular season with a record of nine wins, 15 losses and two ties. That put the Ice in third place with 20 points heading into last weekend’s twogame set with Tri Com (results were not known prior to deadline). Although the team can’t catch Tri Com in the standings, last weekend served as a warmup for the first round of the playoffs that will see Tri Pen meet Tri Com in the semifinals.
The Tri Pen peewee AAA Ice are right where they want to be.
With a record of nine wins, 15 losses and two ties, the team is the third of five teams in the Newfoundland and Labrador Peewee AAA league just prior to the last weekend of the regular season.
That sets the team up for a firstround playoff matchup with the rival Tri Com.
“We’re very pleased with the progress,” said coach Marty Gregory. “We’ve been tight with them all year.”
The Ice hold a head- to- head record of two losses and two ties with Tri Com. However, in the pair of tie games Tri Pen held a fourgoal advantage before squandering the lead late in both contests.
“They could’ve easi ly been wins,” said Gregory.
The peewee provincial league has been a learning experience for both coaches and players. While the more exceptional talent have played at the AAA level in the past, they have not done so in a league format.
The schedule is different, with hockey mostly every weekend instead of a select few weekends spread over the year leading up to the provincial tournament.
“It’s been baby steps for us,” said Gregory. “It has been a learning experience. We have really enjoyed the league. We have nothing to complain about. “It’s very professional.” Tri Pen will get one more look at Tri Com before the playoffs. The Ice were scheduled to have a pair of games with Tri Com last weekend (results were not known prior to deadline).
On the same page
The feeling amongst Gregory and his staff — which also includes Carl Dohey and Gary Brushett — is that the Ice can give Tri Com a run for its money in the playoffs.
“It’s a clean slate and we think our team has improved enough that we can take a couple of games off them,” the coach said.
The key to victory will be having the confidence they can compete with their opponents and making sure players are on the same page.
That means quick shifts and attacking their opponents with all four lines.
“It gets everyone involved and into the game,” said Gregory. “We have to have everyone on the team moving the same direction.”
Young goaltenders are a case study in the positive effect confidence can have on a player’s game. Often, they put so much pressure on themselves to stop every puck that one or two quick goals can completely destroy their momentum and shatter that confidence.
The same can be said for the Ice goaltenders. They were unaware of the caliber of shooter they’d be facing in the new league, but they’ve started to come around since the Christmas break.
“They’re confidence is getting better and their understanding their role,” said Gregory.
Coaches learn too
In the first year of any league, it is not just the players who are learning on the fly. Coaches are also learning as they go.
“We’ve learned a lot this season,” said Gregory of himself, Dohey and Brushett.
The coach cited the ability to turn to other bench bosses in the region and the mainland for advice as a big help.
With regards to the Ice staff, it helps that all three coaches can identify the same issues on the ice and are “realistic and with their eyes on the prize.”
“What we see , we try to fix the next practice,” said Gregory. “The team gets better because of it. The 50 practices are a godsend.”
The playoff teams have a bye-week this week before starting the first round of the league playoffs Feb. 14-15.
Tri Pen peewee AAA Ice forward Mark Davis (left) battles a Tri Com player along the boards during provincial peewee AAA action at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace earlier this season. The Ice and Tri Com are set for a first-round playoff matchup when the second season kicks off Feb. 14-15.