Osprey end rough season
Osprey end rough season The Tri Pen Osprey’s regular season recently concluded, and it wasn’t all that pretty. Finishing last in the five-team provincial major midget league, attention now turns to whether the Osprey will be back next season. The franchise is up for renewal.
The Tri Pen Osprey were created to give young hockey players in the region a chance to play high level hockey in their own backyard.
General manager and assistant coach Scott Akerman wanted to give midget players in the region the chance to either stick to their association hockey or jump into the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League.
“We wanted to give people an option,” he told The Compass in a recent interview. “Before, there was no option. Whatever your goal is, it can be achieved.”
The Osprey faltered in their third season in the NLMMHL. The team lurched to a 7-15-1-2 and their 17 points were good for fifth place, a fair distance from the fourth-place Central IcePak who had 30 points.
It was their lowest win total in the three years the team has operated out of the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts.
The Tri Pen team brings together players from feeder minor hockey associations in Clarenville, Bonavista, Marystown, Placentia, Bay Roberts, Whitbourne and Harbour Grace.
Prior to the Osprey, there was a major midget program based in Placentia. The Lions faltered the last two years and ended up folding both years due to player commitment and other issues.
As it is with any team, things haven’t always been smooth for players or management. From logistics to player commitment, officials dealt with various issues during their three-year run with the team.
“We’ve had some ups and downs along the way,” said Akerman. “The pros outweigh the cons and it’s a program that was needed.
“We’re happy we did the three years.”
There’s been a bit of talk about the metro region having a competitive advantage when it comes to competition. Currently divided into two teams — the St. John’s Maple Leafs and Privateers – Akerman feels they have a draft system that benefits the teams and the league as a whole.
“That level of compete is there from all regions leads me to believe that there are things being done right,” he said. “As long as we don’t try and interfere with what we’re doing right and try and change too much, I think this league will continue to be competitive in all regions.”
A young team with only a handful of senior players, the Osprey had trouble scoring at times, having registered only 70 goals in their favour. Not a strong number when you factor in that they allowed a league high 153 goals against.
Captain Cass Warren registered a team leading 24 points (15 goals, nine assists) in 30 games. Just behind him was Lyndon Thorne with 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists), Cameron Simms ( four goals, 14 assists), Donovan Warren ( five goals, 10 assists) and Ryan Petten (seven goals and seven assists).
First-year keeper Tristan Gray did the heavy lifting in goal for the Osprey. With third-year man Brent Hatfield limited due to injury, Gray appeared in 22 contests and posted a record of five wins, 14 losses and one tie.
He logged 1,178 minutes and a goals-against average of 4.48. Meanwhile, Hatfield posted a record of 2-8 in 11 games.
“We knew going into this season it was going to be tough,” said Akerman. “We knew it was going to take time. You can see a building process.
“I’m glad we stepped up as a group.”
The Osprey returned to the provincial major midget circuit at the beginning of the 2013-2014 season. The first year team finished fourth before bowing out in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual champion Central IcePak.
The team drastically improved in its second season. An infusion of young talent and the maturation of returning players helped produce a third place finish after a regular season stat line of 20 wins and 12 losses. Tri Pen jumped to third place, but fell four games to two in the playoffs to the Western Kings.
Their goal total of 134 was second highest in the league and strapping forward Conal McNamara was named most valuable player.
The Osprey franchise is up for renewal this year and there is some talk on whether the current group will re-up for another term.
“I’d like to think that if we’re going to continue, we’ll have a good opportunity to take this team back again,” said Akerman.
Either way, he wanted to make mention of the support the team has received from fans and business community alike.
“When you look around the league when it comes to that, we’re second to none when it comes to that side of it,” he said. “That’s a very important aspect for this team and this organization.”
We knew it was going to take time. You can see a building process. I’m glad we stepped up as a group. Scott Akerman
Breaking it down
Second year Tri Pen Osprey forward Cameron Simms (right) carries the puck into the opponent’s zone during provincial major midget play at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts earlier this season.