CeeBee Stars out to quick start
The 2014-2015 version of the HGOE CeeBee Stars never seemed to get out of the starter’s block.
They dropped their first nine decisions returning to the Avalon East Senior Hockey League and only recorded three wins for the year.
They got outscored and outplayed as first place was nothing but a mirage on the horizon.
Fast forward to this year and the CeeBees have put that terrible start behind them.
Heading into last weekend’s action, the team sat in first place of the five-team AESHL with three wins and only one loss. That loss came via a shootout with the Bell Island Blues where the CeeBees still salvaged a single point.
Where last season it took them 13 games to reach three wins, they’ve matched that total in just four.
When contacted by The Compass, officials with the team point to a change in feeling around the team with the turnaround in the standings.
“This year, it’s totally different,” said coach Ian Moores. “Just the vibe and your way of thinking when you’re going to the rink and you have a legitimate shot to win every game.”
Much of that can be attributed to the new personnel the CeeBees have brought in over the offseason. They’ve added a former pro, standout junior league players and other guys with provincial senior hockey experience to the lineup.
There are no less than eight new faces with the team who were not around the club last season.
“I think the chemistry on the team, right now, is top notch,” said Moores. “There’s nobody in the dressing room that thinks they’re better than anybody else. When you can look at a guy like Sam Roberts, who just finished playing pro hockey, and he’s in the dressing room wanting to be like everybody else and win.
“He’s out there blocking shots and putting everything on the line … Overall, we’ve got a good mix.”
Shoring things up
While the CeeBees are sitting at the top of the league, there are still places where they can get better.
Moores said he’d like to see his team get better defensively moving forward. Even with three wins in four games, the team has given up a total of 161 shots, or just over 40 a game.
Now, the team is averaging somewhere in the area of 38 shots itself, but that argument doesn’t hold water when tasking your goaltender with a heavy workload every night.
Despite having a standout goaltender like A.J. Whiffen, 40 shots a game is too much to be giving up on a nightly basis.
“It’s very early (in the season), there are going to be things we have to work on and I think A.J. Whiffen has had to be our best player every night,” said Moores. “If we can cut down on the other team’s chances and shots would be great.
“That starts in our own zone defensively.”
Attendance was abysmal for the final season at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace. The team had a horrible showing on the ice and it reflected in the stands.
Aside from the regular CeeBee diehards, new faces around the rink were hard to find and it left a building with great character lacking.
That’s flipped at the Danny Cleary Community Centre, at least in the early going. The home opener on Oct. 22 was close to sold out as fans were treated to an entertaining game.
That continued in the second weekend as again the building was close to full as the new-look CeeBees continued to pique their interest.
“The excitement was building all summer I believe, “said Moores. “Especially with the announcement of A.J. … and people just wanted to see him. Now that we’ve matched our win total from last year and we’re sitting in first place, there’s just a lot of positive vibes going on right now.”
The CeeBees return to the ice in Harbour Grace Saturday night when they welcome the Southern Shore Breakers to the new rink.
Puck drop is scheduled 7:30 p.m.
Now that we’ve matched our win total from last year and we’re sitting in first place, there’s just a lot of positive vibes going on right now. Ian Moores
HGOE CeeBee Stars forward Matthew Thomey makes a move in the St. John’s Caps zone during Avalon East Senior Hockey League action at the Danny Cleary Community Centre in Harbour Grace on Oct. 22. The CeeBees (3-0-1) sit in first place with seven points.