CeeBee Stars experiencing growing pains
The CeeBee Stars haven’t had the results they were looking for through four games in the Avalon Senior Hockey League. However, all is not lost as the team has seen better results lately, no wins though. The team is looking to gain similar momentum in games this weekend in Harbour Grace and Mobile.
It hasn’t exactly been the start to the 2015-2016 season that the CeeBee Stars envisioned.
Through four games, the Cee-Bees are winless and sit at the bottom of the five-team Avalon East Senior Hockey League. To make matters worse, they’ve been on the wrong end of a pair of lopsided losses to Northeast and the Southern Shore on the opening weekend of the season.
“Those involved with the resurrection of the team, we really didn’t know what to expect,” coach Ian Moores told The Compass last week. “The Avalon East league is good hockey and there are some strong teams. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
“Teams are deep and teams are good.”
In those four games, the team has been outscored 29-7 but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
The game against Southern Shore felt more like a 6-3 game then a 10-0 contest, while in the two against Bell Island the Cee-Bees held the lead before taking the loss.
“It seems like every game, we’re gaining momentum,” said Moores. “It is going to take some time, but we’re getting better. Against Southern Shore, we felt like we carried the play but couldn’t get one to go in.
“That could’ve changed the momentum.”
Part of the early struggles can be attributed to a lack of conditioning. The CeeBees roster is littered with guys who aren’t used to the speed of senior hockey.
For every Daniel Sparkes or Robert Slaney there is a Bradley Bishop who is more akin to the grind of junior hockey in this province than the senior ranks.
“There are not too many guys in game shape,” said Moores. “We’ve only had a limited number of practices. That’s coming along though.”
This season marked the return of the CeeBees to the Avalon East league. It was a league they dominated for several seasons and it’s their first skating there since 2011.
Last season, the team was dormant after they were unceremoniously removed from the provincial senior circuit and subsequently denied entry to the AESHL.
An expansion team
For all intents and purposes, this version of the CeeBees is an expansion team. The AESHL is different from the Central-West league in that teams must keenly identify talent and develop the right players if they want to succeed. The big money import players are not an option, nor is throwing money at the great provincial player.
“It’s a building process,” said Moores. “There is another draft coming and we’re hoping to get some players through that. We were limited in the access to talent that we had.”
It may take a season or two, but there are plenty of players in the pipeline for the CeeBees that should carry them for the foreseeable future. Not to mention players on the current roster that will help contribute once they learn the ropes of the senior game.
The right mix
Heading forward, it’ll be paramount for Moores and his staff to come up with line combinations they feel can propel the team forward.
The Southern Shore game, for example, saw multiple line combos thrown into play in an attempt to find something that sticks.
“Hopefully, we’ll put together some line combinations that work,” said Moores. “We’ve got guys that are offensive.”
Finding those combinations will only help with the goal of building a contender.
“We know what it takes and the plan is to be successful in the next few years,” said Moores.
The CeeBees welcome the St. John’s Capitals to the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace Nov. 14. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
They’ll follow that up the next day with a trip to Mobile and a matchup with the Southern Shore Breakers. That game will get underway at 7 p.m.
CeeBee Stars forward Robert Slaney lines up for a faceoff against the Southern Shore Breakers at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harour Grace Oct. 24.