IcePak finish season on a high at provincials
When it was all said and done, the Central AAA Peewee IcePak completed a turnaround for the ages.
On Sunday at the Pat O’Reilly Memorial Arena in Bishop’s Falls, the IcePak defeated the TriPen Ice 3-2 to finish third at the Marco Provincial Peewee AAA Hockey Championships.
Adam Brace and Leo Adams scored second-period powerplay goals for the IcePak, while Brace scored the eventual game-winner in the third and the IcePak held off the Ice for a provincial third-place finish.
IcePak head coach Tony Mulrooney was ecstatic with his team’s performance over the weekend, and couldn’t have been prouder of how his players turned their season around after a very slow start.
“This is absolutely phenomenal,” said the head coach. “We weren’t really in the same league, really, as teams like TriPen, and we’ve beaten them twice now in the past few months. We were being defeated by a lot of goals against these guys and now we’re right there with them. We’re a contender now, and it’s a huge factor.”
The IcePak went 2-2 in the provincial round robin. After losing their opener to the TriCom Thunder, the IcePak won its next two games over the Western Kings and TriPen Ice by respective scores of 11-6 and 4-1. The IcePak lost its final round-robin contest to the St. John’s Hitmen 6-0.
Ethan Simms picked up a hat trick in the win over Western and Aaron Hicks recorded a game-high four points.
Brace scored twice in the 4-1 win over the Ice and added an
assist, and Ian Wall added a trio of helpers.
Brace and Wall were among the top-10 tournament scores with five points each.
Mulrooney has been seeing an improvement in his team’s play since after Christmas, and it resulted in a fantastic thirdplace finish in the biggest tournament of the year.
“It was a bit more studying, and I introduced some systems,” said Mulrooney, when asked what led to the turnaround. “With the game plan, we really did a lot of work at practice with our power play and penalty kill, but the biggest thing was our systems. The coaching staff introduced two systems to the team, and we really sized up the other teams, especially the TriPen team, and seeing what their system was so we could counteract.
“It was all about beating it into their heads and practicing it and practicing it and practicing it some more, and it paid off on the scoreboard.”
Even before playing in the third-place game, Mulrooney already considered provincials a massive success.
Putting up a 2-2 record was huge, making it to the thirdplace game was huge, and then to come out on top, well, it just added extra icing to the proverbial cake.
“This is absolutely huge,” said the proud head coach. “We never thought we would be in the bronze-medal game, realistically, so to win it is fantastic and I am so happy for the players. And you look at the population of Central Newfoundland compared to the geographical regions of the other teams, and for us to be right there is great for Central Newfoundland hockey. We have very strong talent coming up…and the entire coaching staff feels a responsibility to teach these kids the game.”
After a thrilling end to provincials, and their season in general, Mulrooney is very optimistic about the future of the AAA peewee program.
The league is developmental and according to Mulrooney, the AAA IcePak program is needed.
“There are several hockey players here who are top players in their respective minor hockey associations. We have one player from Glovertown, one from Triton and a few from Fogo Island, and all of these associations are producing one or two AAA players,” said the head coach. “Kudos to those associations for doing that, but these players are not playing against or with competitive players, and they need that to develop. The sacrifice these parents are making is huge. Every Tuesday, we have people crossing the ferry for practices, spending the night so their kid can practice, and we have parents travelling for hours just to make it to practice. Kudos to the parents for doing that, and in order for us to continue developing top players in Central Newfoundland, we need that continued dedication.
“I’m sure some of names on the back of the jerseys you’ve seen here this weekend, you’ll be seeing a lot more of it when they turn 18 and 19.”
The Thunder left Bishop’s Falls as provincial champs, defeating the Hitmen in the final 4-2.
Michael Canning of the Central IcePak carries the puck into the offensive zone during the IcePak’s final round-robin game against the St. John’s Hitmen.
Ian Wall of the Central IcePak blasts a slap shot past a St. John’s Icemen defender during provincial round-robin action in Bishop’s Falls over the weekend.