Backs against the wall

Nicholas Mercer
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CeeBees looking to right ship after break

Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars captain Keith Delaney keeps the puck away from Clarenville Caribous' forward Stephen Oates during provincial senior hockey action at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace on Dec. 8. The CeeBees head into the Christmas break with a record of five wins and eight losses, good for 10 points and a share of third place with the Western Royals.

Through 13 games of the 2012-13 Newfoundland Senior Hockey League season, the Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars are not in its most desirable position heading into the Christmas break.

After starting the season with three wins in its first four games, the club entered into a tailspin and has dropped seven of its last nine.

As a result, the CeeBees head into the break in a tie for third place with the Western Royals. The club's record of five wins and eight losses, has been good for 10 points.

Nipping at their heels are the expansion Gander Flyers, who currently have eight points (three wins, five losses and two overtime losses).

"No one is happy with the first 13 games of the season," said CeeBees' head coach Corey Crocker. "Right from the coaches, right from the players and right to the fans."

There have been spurts where the team has played exceptionally well, said the coach.

He points to two games in Grand Falls-Windsor in early November that could have easily been two wins for the CeeBees.

"I thought we played very well in Grand Falls. Well enough to win," said Crocker. "But, playing well has to result in winning."

For the CeeBees, this year finds the team in the same position as last season. Their backs are against the wall and it will be a dogfight for a playoff spot the rest of the way.

"Our backs are against the wall," said Crocker.

CeeBees' captain and leading scorer Keith Delaney said it has been hard to "put a finger" on why the team has struggled in the early going.

"I'm not one to make excuses. Bottom line, is that we've been losing games and we have to start winning more," he said. "Something happened from the beginning of the year until now, and we have to get out this funk that we're in and get some wins under our belt."

Enough is enough

Crocker said the time is now for the CeeBees to start turning the tight games into two points.

"Enough is enough," he said. "We're in a situation were we have to win hockey games."

In the first 13 games, the CeeBees have lost a number of one-goal and two-goal games.

"Those close games have to turn into wins," said Crocker.

Home struggles

For the CeeBees, the turnaround will have to start on home ice.

"Any successful hockey team has established some form of identity at home and we've always been proud of the way we play at home," said Delaney.

In five games at home, the team has struggled and has a record of one win and four losses in Harbour Grace.

Crocker said playing well at home would be the first priority coming out of the Christmas break. The club will play seven of its final 11 games at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace.

"We just have to start winning hockey games, especially at home," he said. " We've got some home games left and we have to take advantage of them. There's no question."

A key to a turnaround at home will be "playing to the flavour of the rink," said the coach.

That means playing to the size of the ice surface in Harbour Grace and its cramped quarters in the corners.

"Players have to buy into the game plan and out-work and out-battle other teams," said Crocker. "It's all about buying in and having the will to win."

Delaney said it will be key for the club to play its best hockey from the point play resumes in early January.

"There needs to be a sense of urgency, 100 per cent," he said.

The key will be not getting caught up in the negative for club, noted Delaney.

It'll be important to "come to the rink and be upbeat and positive."

"It's going to come down to the wire and we've put ourselves in a position where we have to make our move right away," said Delaney. "Mentally, we have to come back after the break and be strong."

The CeeBees will get their chance to turn things around quickly as the team will welcome the first place Cataracts to Harbour Grace on Jan. 5 and 6.

nmercer@cbncompass.ca

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

Geographic location: Grand Falls-Windsor, Grand Falls, S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium

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