Os­prey fly­ing again

The Compass - - CLASSIFIED - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER TC ME­DIA nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

De­fen­sive sta­bil­ity

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

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

The Tri Pen Os­prey are in the early stages of their fourth sea­son in the New­found­land and Labrador Ma­jor Mid­get hockey sea­son.

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