Blades make climb from worst to first
In 2014-15, Mount Pearl finished last in the St. John’s Junior Hockey League; halfway through this season, the team tops of the standings
Three years ago, the Mount Pearl Mark’s Blades were the doormats of the St. John’s Junior Hockey League, managing only five wins in 28 starts.
The team was clearly in rebuild mode.
Fast forward a couple or three winters and the Blades find themselves at the top of the heap, boasting an 11-1 record as the junior circuit nears the halfway point of the 2017-18 SJJHL campaign.
Mount Pearl registered its sixth win in a row Sunday night with a 7-2 decision over the defending champion Southern Shore Breakers on home ice at The Glacier.
Mount Pearl’s only loss so far this season came in the team’s sixth game of the year, a 7-2 setback to the Breakers at the Southern Shore Arena, a game in which the Blades dressed 15 skaters.
“We’ve been piecing this team together for a few years now,” said coach Adam Collins, “and if we’re ever going to win, it will have to be this year or next.”
Mount Pearl has six forwards amongst the league’s top dozen scorers, and goaltenders Brandon Short, who came over in a trade with the Northeast Eagles, and Mitch Rogers are also among the league’s puckstop stats leaders.
“You usually lose anywhere between a half dozen or seven players every year (to graduation), but we only lost three (Matt Rex, Andrew Pollard and Brett Davis) this year,” Collins
“This is the team we envisioned a couple of years ago,” he said.
Most of the team, the coach said, came up through the Mount Pearl minor system, and the O’donel Patriots high school team.
“This is a tight-knit group,” said Collins, “and I think that’s part of the reason why we’ve been enjoying success. There are no dressing room cliques.”
The Blades finished third overall in the standings last season, just as they did in 201516. Mount Pearl was bounced in the first round of the playoffs last spring by an upstart Trinity-placentia Flyers squad that finished sixth in the regular season standings.
“We feel we’ve got something to prove,” Collins said.
Michael Broders, who shares
the league’s scoring lead with C.B.N. rookie Cameron Simms, enjoyed four-point (two goals, two assists) night Sunday. Jared Ostroski, Mitch Mcgrath, Colin O’neill, Bobby Upshall and Stephen Predham also scored for the Blades. Grant Thompson collected two assists. Blake Dalton and Shane Kavanagh replied.
Monday night at the Goulds Arena, the Flyers outscored the Avalon Capitals 7-2, behind a pair of goals each from Andrew Kelly, Conal Mcnamara and Lyndon Thorne. Jared Remedios had the other Trinity-placentia goal. Cameron Dunn and Coady Barron had the Avalon goals.
The league resumes its schedule this weekend with six games.
On Friday, the Shore plays host to the Blades 7:45 at the Southern Shore in Mobile, while the second-place CBR Renegades and third-place C.B.N. Stars tangle 7:30 p.m. at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts.
Two games are set for Saturday, 8:10 p.m. at Twin Rinks with the St. John’s Caps playing host to Northeast, and the Shore travelling to the C.B.S. Arena to play the Renegades at 7 p.m.
Sunday’s set of games has Northeast playing host to Trinity-placentia at 2 p.m. at the Whitbourne Stadium, while the Blades and Stars meet 7:15 p.m. at The Glacier.