© Photo by Nicholas Mercer/The Compass
Mount Pearl Blades' forward Jason Hedges (17) lines up a shot, while his teammate Ryan Bellows wrestles with CeeBees' defenceman Mike Dyke for position in front of goaltender Doug Jewer in second period action Saturday night at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace.
The Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars are confident that when the dust settles on the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League regular season they will be one of the teams left standing in the playoffs.
Despite trailing the Mount Pearl Blades by one point for the final playoff spot, CeeBees' assistant coach Peter George is "fully confident" in his team's ability to close the distance and overtake them.
"The last two weeks are going to be a dogfight for sure," he said.
Heading into the final two weeks of the season, George said the CeeBees hold an advantage over the other two teams they are chasing - the Blades and the Corner Brook Royals.
"We are in control of our own destiny," he said. "We only have to worry about winning our games."
Not having to rely on a Mount Pearl or Corner Brook loss is sure to produce an exciting atmosphere this coming weekend at the Harbour Grace stadium.
Each game will have playoff implications, and the CeeBees have their backs against the wall.
"Its exciting for sure," said George. "The team is up for it."
For the CeeBees, the playoffs are going to be a win and get in scenario.
For a team with a roster littered with players like Matthew Thomey, Keith Delaney, Ryan Delaney, Mike Dyke, Donnie Gosse and the returning Matthew French, it shouldn't be anything they haven't experienced before.
Each has been in tough playoff series and Herder finals prior to this season, something the younger less-experienced players can lean on.
"When we started the season, we wanted to put guys in place who had a history of winning hockey games," he said. "We have a good mix of old and young guys. Guys who have won at different levels."
The situation the team now finds itself in is exactly the situation where these players are expected to excel.
"These are the players that you love to have on your team, especially in these situations," said George.
He said that when "your back is against the wall," these are the players you want fighting in your corner.
"It is this experience that gets you through these situations," said George. "Winners will step up to the plate and carry you through."
The CeeBees were riding high heading into last weekend's series with the Mount Pearl Blades, after the team had jumped ahead of the Blades in the standings.
Friday night at the Glacier in Mount Pearl, the home team took home a hard fought 4-3 shootout victory over the CeeBees.
The Blades picked up goals from Andrew Pearcey, Ryan Bellows (2) and Jason Hedges. Terry Ryan and David Cornacchia each had two assists in the victory.
Ray Dalton led the offensive attack for the CeeBees with two goals. Donnie Gosse and Matthew Thomey picked up singles, while Colin Feehan picked up two assists.
At the stadium in Harbour Grace Saturday night, the two teams fought to an almost replica of Friday night's game - a 4-3 shootout victory for Mount Pearl.
In front of 700 CeeBees faithful, Dalton opened the scoring in the first period.
It was a deficit the Blades erased in the second frame on goals from Nathon Welton and Bellows. Both were power play goals.
Feehan tied up 2-2 before Chris Mooney put Mount Pearl ahead 3-2 with 11 seconds remaining in the period.
The CeeBees applied the pressure in the third stanza, out-chancing the Mount Pearl team.
"They are a good defensive team, and they have a great goaltender," said George of how the Blades were able withstand the pressure. "We showed a lot of heart."
Things looked dire for the CeeBees until Thomey tied the game at 3-3 with four seconds left in regulation, but the necessity of a shootout killed any momentum the team had after scoring the late marker.
Mark Chaplin would score the shootout winner for the Blades.
The CeeBees managed to salvage two points out of a possible four, and again dropping into last place.
The CeeBees are next in action Friday night (Feb. 17) at the stadium in Harbour Grace at 8:00 p.m. against the Blades, while Saturday night (Feb. 18) sees the Royals in town at the usual start time of 7:30 p.m.