Game 7 against CBR Renegades starts at 7:15 p.m.
A first-round playoff match-up that has been generating a buzz in junior hockey circles throughout the area will conclude tonight (March 10) at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts.
© Photo by Nicholas Mercer/The Compass
Andrew Smith of Clarenville, captain of the CBN Junior Stars, is seen in action recently at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts. Stars' coach Rod Noseworthy describes Smith as the best junior defenceman in the province.
Game 7 between the host Moorfrost CBN Junior Stars and the visiting CBR Renegades gets underway at 7:15 p.m.
The stouthearted Stars have battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the series to force the seventh and deciding game.
The Stars, comprised mainly of players from the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region, staved off elimination by winning Game 5 by a score of 5-3 at the Bay Arena on Friday, March 7. Colby Murphy of Placentia had a goal and two assists to lead the Stars’ offence.
On Saturday, with their backs once again against the wall and playing in the unfriendly confines of the Robert French Memorial Stadium in Kelligrews, the Stars eked out a 4-2 victory on the strength of two goals and an assist from leading point-getter Cody Batten.
The team’s season will once again be on the line tonight, but head coach Rod Noseworthy said his team is ready.
“We have nothing to lose after being down 3-1 in the series,” Noseworthy stated.
“The boys are loose and relaxed. We should have success if we play the way we have been the last two games.”
Both teams are evenly matched, with the Stars finishing fourth overall, just one point ahead of the Renegades, in regular season standings.
In four regular season meetings, the Renegades won three times.
The Renegades have a more potent offence, with a handful of players in the upper echelon of league scoring, while Cody Batten was the only Stars’ player to crack the Top 10.
That’s why discipline and defence will once again be the key tonight if the Stars hope to advance to the next round, where a date with the St. John’s Caps, the No. 1 ranked team in the league, awaits the winner.
“They are very good offensively and the key is to shut them down,” Noseworthy said of the Renegades.
Noseworthy said his charges have been buying into the defence-first system in recent games, and have been staying out of the penalty box.
The Stars have been playing without the services of over-ager Brandon Parrott of Carbonear, who was injured early in the series. Parrott plays on the No. 1 line with Batten and Michael Andrews of Bay Roberts.
Defensive stalwart Evan Pittman of Placentia is also banged up, having suffered a separated shoulder in Game 3.
Batten and Andrews also missed games in the series due to suspensions.
“We have faced some adversity,” said Noseworthy.
In the absence of these key players, Noseworthy said other players have stepped up. He made special mention of the second line, comprised of Devon Whalen of Placentia, Zach Laing from Carbonear and Bradley Budden of Placentia.
“They have really been pulling their weight,” Noseworthy stated.
And the captain, Andrew Smith of Clarenville, continues to be an anchor on the defence.
Noseworthy described Smith as the best defenceman in the league.
“When he’s going, there’s nobody better,” said the coach.
But like any successful team, top-flight goaltending is a must, and Connor Thompson of St. John’s has been stepping up.
Thompson has played nearly every minute of the series between the pipes for the Stars, and has been “excellent,” said Noseworthy.
Playoff games at the Bay Arena have been drawing up to 250 fans, and Noseworthy is hoping for a bigger turnout tonight.
“It’s great hockey. These teams are very fast and very skilled. The speed of the game is unreal,” he said.