CeeBee Stars ex­pe­ri­enc­ing grow­ing pains

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

NI­CHOLAS MERCER / THE COM­PASS

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.

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