Defensive dependability bolstering CeeBees

Nicholas Mercer
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Team combines timely offence with stalwart defence to produce wins

Football coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant Jr. once said, "offence sells tickets, defence wins championships."

The Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars  (6-10-2-14) are beginning to show that the idea behind the quote has merits.

After the earning a split with the Clarenville Caribous last weekend, the team is now allowing a league-low average of 2.8 goals per game int he second half of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League season.

Holding teams to a couple of goals has been the driving force behind the team's leapfrog of the Mount Pearl Blades for fourth place.

"Defence is important to us," said heach coach Corey Crocker. "We stress it before every game, on the bench and after the game. We are always talking defence."

The team's commitment to defence is what has allowed it to claw its way out of the basement of the NSHL and into the playoff picture.

"It's a team effort on defence," he said.

That effort starts, strangely enough, in the other team's end for the CeeBees, according to Crocker.

"The forwards have been great at keeping the puck down low and holding the team in and not committing turnovers," he said. "It all starts in the offensive zone."

Crocker added that when the other team has been able to get out of their own zone his forwards and defenceman "have been great at forcing them to dump the puck in."

This allows for either starting goaltender Doug Jewer or backup Freddie Diamond to get out of their net and move the puck to a defenceman in order to kickstart the CeeBees' attack once again.

"Our defence has time to pick up the puck, look up and make the pass," said Crocker. "When there is pressure, its harder to do that."

Defensively, the rest of the league looks like this: Grand Falls-Windsor, three goals allowed per game; Clarenville, 3.7 goals allowed per game; Corner Brook, six goals allowed per game; Mount Pearl, 4.2 goals allowed per game;


Big games this weekend

What could be the team's most important games of the season happen this weekend when the CeeBees clash with the Mount Pearl Blades at both the Glacier in Mount Pearl and the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace, Feb. 10-11.

"I expect it to be playoff hockey," said Crocker.

The coach said his guys recognize how important these games are.

The CeeBees currently sit in fourth place with 14 points, one point ahead of the last place Blades, who have 13 points.

With a pair of wins this weekend, the CeeBees could push their lead to five heading into the final stretch.

"I was asked this weekend if this team has peaked and like I said before, this is not a race, it's a marathon," said Crocker.


Weekend recap

 The CeeBees started the weekend strong with a 7-1 drubbing of the visiting Clarenville Caribous.

CeeBees' captain Matthew Thomey lead the offensive charge by notching a hat trick, while Colin Feehan scored twice for the home team.

Jamie Tobin and Sean Wadden had the other two goals for the CeeBees, while Ray Dalton and Mike Dyke chipped in with two assists each, while Mark Tobin, Kyle Doucet, Chris Sparkes, Matthew French, Keith Delaney and Ryan Delaney also picked up helpers.

Ryan Desrosiers scored the lone goal for Clarenville, a shorthanded marker that knotted the game at 1-1 at 13:42 of the first. It was the closest the Caribous would get.

"We're starting to come together as a group," said Thomey after the game. "This team is for real.

"We all want a championship, regardless of how the first half of the year went."

Sunday, the CeeBees scored a late third period goal, but it wasn't enough as the team fell to the Caribous 3-2 at the Clarenville Event Centre.

Scoring for the CeeBees were Matthew French and Ryan Delaney, while Clarenville picked up goals from Mitch Bragg, Dale Sullivan and Ryan Desrosiers.


Organizations: Newfoundland Senior Hockey League, Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars, Clarenville Event Centre

Geographic location: Clarenville, Mount Pearl, Corner Brook S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium

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