Team announces Campbell as first team captain
The Gander Flyers have hit a bit of a skid.
© Matt Molloy/The Beacon
CORNER CRASHING — Steve Brazil of the Gander Flyers hustles into the corner after a loose puck during Saturday’s provincial senior hockey league game in Gander. The Flyers played the Western Royals over the weekend, losing Friday night 5-1 and again on Saturday night 6-3.
The Flyers dropped a pair of games to the Western Royals in a home-and-home series on Friday and Saturday night.
The Royals skated away with a 5-1 win on home ice on Friday night, and a 6-3 win on Saturday night in Gander.
Matthew Thomey and Mathieu Berube led the Royals with a pair of goals each on Friday night, while Steve Pearson scored the lone goal for Gander.
Michael Hynes provided the offensive spark for the Royals on Saturday night with a hat trick, while Grant Donovan, Sean Wadden, and Steve Brazil each scored power-play goals for the Flyers.
With the losses, the Flyers fall back to the cellar in the six-team provincial senior hockey league standings with three points (1-6-1), while the Royals sit in third with 11 points (5-2-1).
“Mental lapses, that’s the easiest way to put it. Mental lapses have cost us games all year,” said Donovan, who with 10 points leads all Flyers in that statistical category. “Every single game we’ve played we’ve been in it and we’ve had chances to win, and besides a few periods here and there, I personally believe we’ve dominated most of the games we’ve played. We got out to a bad opening 20 tonight (Saturday), and the end of the game was what it was. Yesterday was the same thing. We played two solid periods of hockey in Deer Lake, and it just blew up in that last period. Like I said, we’ve been there every single game. It’s just a mental lapse here and a mental lapse there.”
In Deer Lake, the score was 2-0 for the Royals after 40 minutes, but things seemed to implode for the visiting Flyers in the third. The Royals scored three goals in just over six minutes, including two shorthanded goals that came on the same penalty.
On Saturday, the Flyers battled back from a 4-0 deficit to cut the lead to 4-3 with 13:15 left in regulation. However, Hynes scored a power-play goal with 2:42 left in the game, and Brian Barker scored again with 1:39 left, and Deer Lake took the win.
Despite the loss and mini losing skid, Donovan said the Flyers’ players are doing their best to stay positive in the face of adversity.
“We’re trying, I’ll be honest with you. We had four wins last year, and we came here this year expecting more and expecting better. We know we’re capable of better, and we’re doing our best to keep the dressing room vibe good,” said Donovan. “As far as all the boys go, we’re all in the same boat, we’re all doing this together, and we’re all on each other’s side. It’s trying at times, but we still have that drive to win. We just got to get it done.”
The fact the Flyers scored three of its Saturday night’s goals while enjoying the man advantage was a positive Donovan took from the weekend.
The forward said the team’s speed sometimes forces opponents to take penalties, and with the additions of import forwards Peter Campbell and Rob Mignardi, the team’s power play has been solid after eight games with 11 power-play goals.
“I don’t know if we had three power-play goals all last year,” said a joking Donovan, as the Flyers actually had 20 power-play goals last season. “We do have a fast, young team, so we draw a lot of penalties. That was one of the biggest things last year, the fact that our power play wasn’t there, and having Pete here this year with his calmness alone, and Rob with his drive, we can have a stronger power play. Those two guys are huge additions to our team, especially with the experience they bring and the skills they bring to the table. That’s definitely helped our power play big time. It’s nice having the power play flowing right now, and once we get our systems down and get this monkey off our back, we’ll be shooting fine.”
Another change was evident to fans Saturday night, as Campbell played with the captain’s ‘C’ on his jersey.
Head coach Dennis Laing wanted to wait and see if any of his skaters would step up and provide the type of leadership a captain should provide, and Donovan has no quarrels with the decision.
“I think it’s the right choice. Pete’s legit, he’s a leader, and he has a wealth of experience,” said Donovan. “He’s been all over the place playing hockey, and he does his job really well.”
Donovan has also done his job really well. He has a goal to go with nine assists, and is tied with Brandon Nicholas of the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts and Ryan Desrosiers of the Clarenville Caribous as the league’s top point producers among left-wingers.
“Honestly, last year was kind of a catching up season for me. I hadn’t played hockey in three years except for some shinny hockey with guys I worked with, and until Christmas of last year, I was just going through the motions and trying to catch up to the speed of the game,” said Donovan. “Over the summer, I went from 225 pounds down to 208, and I trained pretty hard. I had a son over the summer and was on parental leave, so I had time to do it. My wife was great letting me get up in the morning, getting him ready, she did her thing, and I went to the gym. That was the routine every single morning, and to have that time really worked out for me to really get myself back into the position I wanted to be in.”
The Flyers will try and break its three-game skid when the Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars come to town this weekend. Saturday’s night’s game begins at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday’s will start at 1:30 p.m.