The Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars (5-12) continued to struggle at home after the team dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting Western Royals at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace On Jan. 20.
The club has now dropped six straight contests.
Like it was last night, the CeeBees deserved to be in a different situation than the final outcome.
After falling behind 2-0, the club scrapped and clawed its way back into the game, but could not catch a break. Whether it was a broken stick at the blueline that lead to a goal or a puck sliding out to an area that had just been vacated by a CeeBees player, nothing was bouncing the team’s way.
Head coach Corey Crocker was pleased with the effort put forth by his team.
“The players are working hard and they want to win,” he said. “We’re not trying to lose. It’s very frustrating when you don’t get a bounce here and there.”
A key for the club moving forward will be to keep working hard and staying upbeat.
“We just have to keep plowing forward and hope we get a couple big wins coming up,” said Crocker. “The end result isn’t what we want, but it is impossible to get negative here. We have to stay positive.”
Controversy swirled around the Royals’ first marker of the game. As CeeBees’ forward Ryan Delaney struggled to get off the ice, Ryan Sparling slide a pass from Steve North behind starter Mark Yetman. Ryan Penney also picked up a helper.
Because the puck did not change position back to the CeeBees, the play could not be blown down by the officials.
What followed next was a continuous parade to the penalty box by the home team. The CeeBees finished with 15 penalties for the game.
While the Royals could not capitalize on the numerous man advantages, they were able to pot the second goal of the game while at even strength.
After a failed clearing attempt, Sparling corralled the loose puck and beat Yetman high blocker side to put the Royals up 2-0.
At the beginning of the third period, the CeeBees turned up the pressure. The home team pestered the Royals’ goal but starter Bryan Gillis was up to the task. In one instance, the puck came to Jordan Escott in the slot. Firing quickly, Escott was robbed of a sure goal by the lightning quick glove hand of Gillis.
Moments after that stop, the Royals struck again. This time, Darren Langdon scored with Mark Robinson and North picking up the assists.
From that point, the CeeBees seized the momentum by scoring twice. Chris Hulit fired a laser over the right shoulder of Gillis for the first CeeBees’ goal of the game. Robert Slaney assisted.
Three minutes later, Terry Ryan slide a puck out front intended for Ray Dalton. The puck hit a couple of skates in front and found the back of the net. Dalton assisted on the play.
The CeeBees kept the pressure on until bad luck happened. Hulit, looking for a one-timer from the point, snapped his stick off mid-shot and sprung Jake Easton for a breakaway. Easton deftly faked forehand and came back to his backhand to beat Yetman, putting the Royals up 4-2.
Keith Delaney scored with .10 seconds left in the third, but that was all the CeeBees could muster.
Crocker said that while no one is satisfied with the result of Sunday’s game, there were positives to take away from the tilt.
“We got our nose dirty, the grit level was there and we did not back down,” he said. “We worked harder in these games, than we have in the past.”
Remaining positive in the face of adversity is going to be key for the stretch run towards the playoffs for the club.
“Our fans are good, they’re sticking with us and that’s what we need right now. We don’t need to be negative,” said Crocker. “This building has a history of working hard and winning, and we’re trying to get back to that. We’re not giving up and we’re going to go down with a fight.”
The CeeBees still trail the Gander Flyers for the final playoff spot by one point after the Flyers dropped a 8-3 decision to the Clarenville Caribous.
The CeeBees have three games in hand on the Flyers, and head into Deer Lake next weekend while the Flyers stay home.
“It’s motivation,” said Crocker. “If you need motivation, all you have to do is look at the standings. We’re going to Deer Lake next weekend. It’s not going to be easy. They have small rink and play tough, we have to play tougher.
“If we can sneak one out there, it would be fantastic on the road … We’re going through a major lull now, but hopefully we can get out of it. We have too many good guys.”