(Editor's Note: The CeeBees are in tough tonight against the Mount Pearl Blades in Newfoundland Senior Hockey League action. The game goes 7:30 p.m. at the Glacier in Mount Pearl.)
By NICHOLAS MERCER/The Compass
One of the first things Jared Tuton, one of the newest Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars skaters, notices when he hits the ice is the fans.
"They are there with full support," said the 26-year-old Whitehorse, Yukon native.
When he is out there on the ice, Tuton said the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium fans can help spur on the team.
Fans can bring much more to a team than paying admission and taking their seats.
They can elevate a team to victory, will them back from the brink of despair and cause havoc for the visiting team.
"The CeeBees fans are great," said Tuton. "It is like having a sixth guy out there on the ice."
A long way from home
Tuton was not always looking for a senior hockey experience.
He was just looking for a game of hockey when he moved to St. John's with his girlfriend, Rachelle Blais, who is attending medical school at Memorial University.
"I figured I'd play some beer league hockey or something like that," said Tuton.
First arriving in St. John's, Tuton spent some time trying to find a skate in the capital city.
It was not until his friend and former University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves teammate Kevin Clark, a current member of the St. John's IceCaps of the American Hockey League, put him in touch with members of the CeeBees' organization.
Tuton only took the opportunity to skate with the one senior team before deciding the CeeBees were a good fit for him, but he will admit he did not know very much about senior hockey in this province.
"It was a very good surprise," said Tuton.
The talent level is something that sticks out for Tuton when he speaks about the new league.
"The players here are fantastic," he said.
When Tuton first heard about the league, visions of a bunch of old men "just out having a laugh," skated through his head.
"There is a lot of skill out here on the ice," he said.
Tuton admitted he did not think there were too many good teams in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League, but through six games with the CeeBees, Tuton has formed a different opinion.
"All of the teams are good teams," he said.
Bringing game up to par
Before suiting up with the CeeBees, Tuton took a year off from playing hockey for the 2010-2011 season after his senior year with the Seawolves.
Tuton felt that the year layoff has been the main reason behind, what he calls, a slow start to the 2011-12 campaign.
"It's been a small bump in the road, but I'm coming along now" he said.
Due to the break, Tuton said he has had to dial back a part of his game he wishes fans saw more of.
"I'd like to join the rush a bit more," he said.
Protecting his own end
So far this season, Tuton has been focusing his energy on working hard in his own end - something he enjoys doing and is a big part of his overall game.
"I've been concentrating on locking things down in my end," he said.
In the recent series against Mount Pearl, Tuton was a force in both aspects of play.
He showed energy on the defensive end and jumped into the rush, trying to generate some offense for the CeeBees.
CeeBees' assistant coach Peter George said Tuton has been the exact player the team thought they were getting and "what we hoped he would be."
"He has been very solid defensively and a player that makes very few mistakes," he said. "His quickness allows him to compete against our opponents' top lines."
George said Tuton is proving to be a team guy after playing the Mount Pearl series with eight stitches in his ankle.
"Tuton will prove to be one of the top defensive D-men in the leauge, no question about it," said George.
George said that although Tuton hails from Whitehorse, he is quickly becoming immersed in CeeBees' culture and "takes pride in wearing the jersey."
A new experience
Preconceived notions about Newfoundland usually quickly change when people new to the province live here for the first time.
Tuton has been no different. He can really feel the Irish culture when he gets out in St. John's.
The people have also helped ease his transition to life on the rock.
"Everyone is so social. They make it easy to feel at home," Tuton said.