The Eastlink CeeBee Stars (3-7) have one goal ahead of its four games prior to the Christmas break.
Get back to playing .500 hockey in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League.
© Photo by Matt Molloy/Transcontinental Media
CeeBees' Wes Welcher driving hard against Gander Flyers' defenceman Brad Slaney in provincial senior hockey league action at the Gander Community Centre on Dec. 1. The CeeBees won 4-3 in a shootout.
It is not a stretch for the Harbour Grace-based club. Outside of a four game losing streak earlier this season, the club has split weekends with the Mount Pearl Blades, Clarenville Caribous and most recently with the Gander Flyers.
“We’re just trying to battle our way back to .500,” said coach Ian Moores.
The CeeBees have shown flashes of stability in the early season, however, the team must put together a full 60 minutes of hockey if it wants to reach the goal.
In two of the team’s losses this season the team has played tight games with the Caribous and the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts heading into the third period, only to see the bottom fall out of those games and end up losing by a spread of two or three goals.
In those third periods, the CeeBees were outshot 18-8 and 19-6.
“I think we’re still learning as a team, and we certainly have to get better in the third period and we know that,” said veteran forward Chris Sparkes. “It’s something that we have to work on as a team.”
Things have to start in the defensive end for the CeeBees. That includes taking care of the puck and cutting down on trips to the penalty box.
“We have to start playing a bit more defensive hockey,” said Sparkes.
The team’s march back to even hockey starts this weekend with a stern test at the Clarenville Events Centre when the CeeBees meet the second place Clarenville Caribous in a two-game set on Dec. 14-15.
Moores knows the march to .500 will not be an easy one.
“That is the goal. Is it possible? It is possible,” he said. “Is going to happen? Who knows.
“That is definitely the goal and we’re going to scratch our way back to .500 and go from there.”
That road to .500 got a little easier in the second game of a weekend series with the Flyers.
Gander and the CeeBees skated to a 3-3 tie at the end of regulation on Dec. 1.
Mike Dyke, Chad Earle and Chris Sparkes scored in the shootout to guarantee the CeeBees left Gander with two of the four points.
“We played good hockey all weekend,” said Moores.
Dyke, Jordan Escott and Kevin Reid had tallies in regulation.
“I thought we dictated the play,” said Moores.
In the Nov. 30 tilt, the third period troubles for the CeeBees reared their heads again.
The team trailed the Flyers 3-2 heading into the third. Then the Flyers scored four times to the CeeBees two tallies to seal the 7-4 victory. Escott (2), Doug O’Brien and Colin Feehan scored for CeeBees.
However, the third frame in Gander was different from the other tough final stanzas. The CeeBees outshot the Flyers 19-14, but "couldn't catch a break," according to Moores.
“I thought we carried most of the play,” he said.
The Flyers and the CeeBees sit tied for fourth place with six points.
Moore said a key to this weekend’s matchup with the Caribous will be staying out of the penalty box.
“Everytime we play Clarenville, it brings out the best in us and vice versa,” he stated. “We’re trying to make up some ground in the standings and we’re certainly going to Clarenville hoping to get, at worst, a split.”
The CeeBees and the Caribous renew acquaintances on Dec. 7 with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 8) sees a 1:30 p.m. start.