Heading to Sherbrooke
New coach Crosbie optimistic about team’s chances
Bay Roberts’ Zachary Bennett is an exceptional young hockey player taking his talents to Bishop’s College School in Sherbrooke, Que. Although he will be playing hockey at the prestigious school, Bennett’s primary reason for heading there are the educational benefits of taking classes at the school.
The Tri Pen Osprey are set to fly ahead of another Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League season.
The final Osprey roster is made up of 18 skaters and two goaltenders from feeder associations in Clarenville, Bonavista, Marystown, Placentia, Bay Roberts, Whitbourne and Harbour Grace.
The team also named eight AP players, those who would fill in when a regular is injured or unable to dress for a game.
This year’s version of Tri Pen is going to have a different look. A veteran-laden team in 20142105, it was forced to replace 11 players from the team that finished third in the five-team league.
That includes leading point getter Conal McNamara, captain Ryan Dawson and goaltender Riley Akerman, along with standout defencemen Christian Dawe and Matthew Fisher.
Despite this big turnover, new coach Chris Crosbie said he was impressed with the skill exhibited by players during training camp.
“They’re all talented young players,” he said. “I felt there was a lot of energy (at training camp) for a new coach.”
Glancing over the roster, the Osprey are an even mixture of third-year (six), second-year (seven) and first-year (seven) players.
“Our third year players are key on the team, the second-years are good and the first-years are good,” said Crosbie. “We have a strong group.”
The coach said the Osprey will come at teams with a balanced approach.
“I believe in running four lines,” said Crosbie. “Sure, in tight situations, you’re going to tighten things up a little, but if you have four complete lines rolling and running it’s going to be a hard team to beat.
“We’re having fun with it. We want our team to respect everything. It makes for better hockey.”
Crosbie comes to the team having spent time on the bench with provincial teams the past couple of summers. He was a member of multiple Herder Memorial Trophy winning teams during his senior hockey playing days. He, along with coaches Chad Parsons, Scott Akerman and Paul Sheppard, are excited to get the season underway.
They did so last weekend against the Western Kings in Corner Brook (results were not known prior to deadline).
“I’m looking forward to getting going,” said Crosbie.
Goaltending will be a strength
At first glance, the Osprey appear to have an advantage between the pipes over the rest of the league.
In goal, Tri Pen will feature returning keeper Brent Hatfield of Placentia, as well as Bonavista’s Tristan Gray. “We are ecstatic about our goaltending,” said new coach Chris Crosbie. Hatfield finished last season with a 12-4 record to go along with a goals against average of 2.87 and only 46 goals allowed all season.
Meanwhile, Gray is coming off a season with the Tri Pen bantam Ice where he posted a 12-2 record with a 1.21 goals against average.
As a result, Gray was named the top goaltender of the league.
“We think we have two of the best goaltenders in the league,” said Crosbie. “With two good goalies pushing each other everyday, there are good things coming.” Speed and size up front While the forward group will be missing the scoring talents of Dawson and McNamara, that does not necessarily mean the Osprey will be lacking for scoring punch. Among the returnees are two of its top-five scorers in Lyndon Thorne (31 points) and Cameron Simms (26 points), while third-year forward Cassidy Warren (18 points) should find his name on the scoresheet more often with an expanded role.
Sophomore forward Mark Barrett has talent to burn and is hoping to improve on his 13-point freshman season with the club.
“We have speed (up front) and a lot of strength,” said Crosbie.
The rest of the group is a mixture of third-years, second-years and first-year players. This mold fits into the coach’s model for the franchise. These players include Ryan Petten (Clarke’s Beach), Ryon Williams (Harbour Grace), and Nolan Maloney-Brown (Clarenville), Tetford (Bay Roberts), Liam Shea (Dunville), Matthew Akerman (Bay Roberts) and Donovan Warren (Arnold’s Cove).
Sticking to the plan
The biggest turnover occurs on the blue-line for the Osprey. Since last season, the team lost four defencemen to graduation and another moved to AP status.
That leaves Tri Pen with just two returnees on the back end in Colin Parsons (Bareneed) and Lucas March (Green’s Harbour). They’ll no doubt log heavy minutes while the new additions — Mason Oates (Bay Roberts), Michael Dawson (Bay Roberts), Chandler Warren (Arnold’s Cove) and Jacob Evans (Clarenville) — get their feet wet at the major midget level. If familiarity counts for anything, the trio of Oates, Warren and Evans were teammates on the Tri Pen Ice bantam squad that captured the provincial bantam AAA league championship. “If our defencemen stick to the plan, they’ll be hard to play against,” said Crosbie. “The biggest thing will be getting on the same page. Once we do that, we’ll be pretty rock solid.”
Crosbie said the Osprey will look to put together a product that will “create an atmosphere” in the arena and in the community.
“With these players, it is only a matter of time,” said Crosbie.
Placentia’s Brent Hatfield is one half of the Tri Pen Osprey’s goaltending tandem this season.