Osprey flying again
The Tri Pen Osprey are banking on youth heading into their fourth season in the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League.
The Osprey, which takes in players from feeder associations in Clarenville, Bonavista, Marystown, Placentia, Bay Roberts, Whitbourne and Harbour Grace, enter the third weekend of the season with 18 skaters and two goaltenders.
Of that group, just two players — Mark Barrett and Ryon Williams — are entering their final year of midget hockey. The rest are either first or second year players.
The Osprey are coming off a season that saw them miss the playoffs for the first time in three years in the league and they’re looking to get back into the postseason.
The young flock have already shown they have a penchant for putting the puck in the net. In two games with the Western Kings Sept. 10-11 in Corner Brook, the Osprey lit the lamp a total of 10 times.
They got goals from six different players, while a handful of others picked up assists. That shows the Osprey won’t be reliant on one line to get the job done every night.
What the coaching will be looking from them is consistency and getting to play within the framework of the team’s systems.
“As a team, we need to tighten things up defensively,” said coach Scott Akerman. “The game today is built on speed and skill and that’s the direction we’ve gone with this team. Creating offense is first and foremost.”
Members of the Osprey are: Liam Leonard, Mark Barrett, Jacob Evans, Kyle Petten, Ethan Crosbie, Lucas Russell, Riley Petten, Kyle Tetford, Tristan Gray, Ryon Williams, Matthew Akerman, Luke Akerman, Braedon Carlson, Chandler Warren, Liam Best, Mason Oates, Colin Jones, Josh Neil and Dawson Laundry.
The coaching staff is Scott Akerman, Matthew French, Paul Shephard and Darren Halloran.
A skilled group
Skill is the word for the Osprey’s forward corps. Featuring the likes of Barrett, Williams, Crosbie, Neil, Akerman and others, there’s no shortage of players who have an ability to put the puck in the net.
On top of that, Kyle Petten is back with the club after an impressive year with the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask. Meanwhile, Leonard is home after a stint with Bishop’s College in Quebec that saw him get selected in last year’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft.
There’s also speed to burn in this group, along with players that are not afraid to get their nose dirty from time to time.
“The overall team skill is impressive. We have a group that can score,” said coach Akerman.
Defensively, the Osprey are counting on a group without a third year presence. Instead, they’ll lean on second year blueliners Oates and Evans to help bring the rest of the group along.
That’s not meant as a slight against the rest of the corps, because there’s plenty of skill there too. First-year pivot Russell is fresh off a bantam AAA campaign that saw him put up 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) as the league’s highest scoring defenceman. Fellow frosh Best also put up numbers in bantam AAA with 18 points.
“We have some good puck carrying defencemen,” said coach Akerman. “They’re young, for the most part, but they’re quite a capable group.”
Perhaps the strongest part of the team for the Osprey may be their goaltending. Keepers Gray and Riley Petten form one of the more formidable one-two punches on the provincial circuit.
They’ve been tabbed for Team NL duties on numerous occasions and are able to steal games when the mood strikes them. Wherever they’ve played, both have been in the conversation as that league’s top goaltender.
“We’re really pleased with our goaltending,” said Akerman. “The back end is very solid, which I think is evident. If they can keep the score close for us, we’ll win some games.”
The Osprey square off with the Central IcePak in a two-game series at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts this weekend. Game 1 is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. on Sept. 24, while the second contest is set to go 11:10 a.m. the following day.
The back end is very solid, which I think is evident. If they can keep the score close for us, we’ll win some games. Scott Akerman
The Tri Pen Osprey are in the early stages of their fourth season in the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget hockey season.