Pee­wee Ice ‘com­ing around’ at the provin­cal level

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca

The way Tri Pen pee­wee AAA Ice coach Randy Rear­don sees it, his team is just get­ting warmed up on the provin­cial stage.

“We’re com­ing around,” he told The Com­pass. “From where we started, the play­ers have come a long ways. They’re get­ting used to the league.”

The proof is in the pud­ding they say. Tri Pen has been much im­proved over the last four head­ing into last week­end. Dur­ing that stretch, the Ice won three and sat in third in the fiveteam league with a record of four wins and eight losses.

Dur­ing that stretch, they’ve lit the goal lamp 16 times ver­sus 11 goals against.

“We’ve got 11 for­wards and they’re com­ing around,” said Rear­don. “They’re pretty good.”

The Ice are lead by Shea­mus Best and his nine points (three goals and six as­sists), Owen Sparkes ( four goals and four as­sists), Josh El­ford (one goal and seven as­sists) and Ryan Jones (three goals and two as­sists).

The spread out scor­ing is a stark con­trast from last year’s squad when a couple of play­ers dom­i­nated the score­sheet for the Ice.

“The play­ers are start­ing to get used to play­ing at this level,” said Rear­don. “Our de­fence is still work­ing and our goal­tend­ing is great.”

Speak­ing of goal­keep­ing, the Ice fea­ture a pair of ath­letes who have seen a lot of shots and are get­ting bet­ter as time goes on.

Ri­ley Mercer has made the ma­jor­ity of the starts and has a record of one win and six losses in 420 min­utes of work. Mean­while Kyle Youden is 3-2 in 300 min­utes of ac­tion.

“Their learn­ing po­si­tions and get­ting used to play­ing with­out the puck,” said Rear­don. The leap Get­ting used to a cer­tain level of hockey is part of the bat­tle for a young player try­ing to suc­ceed. For many of the Ice play­ers, it is their first ex­pe­ri­ences play­ing in a provin­cial AAA league.

Many are making the jump from atom hockey, which is dom­i­nated by club teams. That cou­pled with the travel leaves a steep learn­ing curve for play­ers.

It doesn’t help when the first half-a-dozen games are against Tri-Com and St. John’s, who are at the top of league.

“They’re tough teams,” said the coach.

The play­offs are very much in the cards for the Ice as they move to­wards the half­way point of the sea­son. With eight points, they sit just a shade above the Cen­tral IcePak (seven points) and the Western Kings (six points).

Along the way, the team will con­tinue to get bet­ter both on and off the ice.

“They’ve come a long ways as a team and as in­di­vid­u­als,” said Rear­don. “It’d be nice to make the play­offs but as long as they’re lov­ing the game, it’s good.”

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Tri Pen pee­wee AAA Ice for­ward Owen Sparkes (right) at­tempts to carry the puck into the St. John’s zone dur­ing provin­cial pee­wee ac­tion at the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Habrour Grace ear­lier this sea­son.

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