Os­prey end rough sea­son

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

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.

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