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

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - SPORTS - BY ROBIN SHORT TELEGRAM SPORTS ED­I­TOR rshort@thetele­gram.com

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

said.

“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.

Broders

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