The CeeBee Stars put forth arguably its best effort of the season on home ice in Harbour Grace Friday (Feb. 1) night but it was not enough against the Clarenville Caribous.
The Caribous (13-7-2) handed the CeeBees (5-14-1) a 6-4 defeat at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium.
A near-capacity crowd were treated to a heck of hockey game. The CeeBees and the Caribous played an entertaining brand of hockey featuring crisp passes mixed with clean hits and just a dash of aggression.
At points in the final frame, the CeeBees buzzed around the Caribous goal, but could not beat Caribous starter Roger Kennedy for the equalizer.
The CeeBees and Caribous each poured 31 shots at the other team’s goal.
Clarenville had to figure the CeeBees were going to come out strong.
Weathering the opening offensive flurry, the Caribous were able to strike first.
Ryan Desrosiers tipped a cross-ice pass from Blake Gallagher behind CeeBees’ starter Mark Yetman for the first marker. Mitch Oake also assisted on the play.
With the score 1-0, the CeeBees’ went to the powerplay with just over seven minutes to play in the frame.
Taking a pass from Chris Sparkes, Robert Slaney had his original attempt stopped by Kennedy, but shoveled in his own rebound to even up the game. Jordan Escott picked up an assist on the play.
The teams would remain even the rest of the way.
The Caribous took advantage of a sluggish start to the second stanza by the CeeBees to jump out to a 3-1 lead.
First, Stephen Oates beat Yetman with helpers coming from Andrew Sweetland and Dale Sullivan. Then, Sullivan deposited a pass from Brandon Roach behind the CeeBees’ keeper. Steve Yetman also assisted on the play.
That seemed to spark the home side. For the rest of the frame, the CeeBees’ outchanced the Caribous close to two-to-one.
However, Kennedy stood tall in the net, and stopping 11 shots in the frame.
It was not until Terry Ryan tipped home a shot from Nick Theriault that the CeeBees solved Kennedy. Keith Delaney picked up a point on the play.
The CeeBees headed into the second intermission trailing 3-2.
The teams would combine for five goals in the final frame.
The CeeBees started the scoring when Chris Hulit finished a great individual effort by Robert Slaney. Slaney picked up the puck in the neutral zone, beat a Clarenville defender with a nifty toe-drag before sliding the puck to Hulit, who fired the puck over the glove hand of Kennedy.
Another cross-ice pass hurt the CeeBees, as Sweetland took one from Sullivan and beat Yetman to put the Caribous up 4-3.
However, the CeeBees would not lie down. Picking up their intensity, the club pushed for the tieing goal. They got it when Fred Earle blasted a puck from the point, beating Kennedy through a maze of bodies.
Hoping to build off of that momentum, the CeeBees again made a push to take the lead. However, a puck that squirted away from Yetman and onto the stick of Sullivan ended up in the back of the net.
An empty-net goal from captain Dustin Russell ended any hopes of CeeBees comeback.
The CeeBees were hoping to take advantage of an off-day for the Gander Flyers, whom the club is battling with for the final playoff spot in the province-wide league, and grab the much needed two points.
The club will not have long to rest on its laurels as the team is back in action tomorrow (Feb. 2) night at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium and a date with the league-leading Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts in the first game of a two-game series.
Action is set to kick-off at the Joe at 7:30 p.m.