Heading into the 2014 Bell Aliant peewee AAA Atlantic Championship in Fredericton, New Brunswick March 27-30 the Tri Pen Ice sit in the dark.
There is a sense of the unknown as the team heads into a tournament that will feature some of the finest peewee-aged talent in the Atlantic provinces.
“We have no idea,” said coach Nelson Bennett of what to expect.
That meaning the team has very little knowledge of its opponents it will face at the Atlantic championships.
“I haven’t even had time to track down anyone who could fill me in,” noted Bennett.
The Ice punched its ticket to the championship after a 5-2 victory over the St. John’s Ruckus on Feb. 16.
For Bennett and his team this feeling of walking into an unusual situation is a number of things.
“It’s exciting and nervous at the same time,” he said.
With that said, the Ice coaching staff has the utmost confidence in the abilities of their players.
The team features the best peewee players from associations in Clarenville to Conception Bay North. This includes the only female playing at the AAA level Shailynn Snow, Reilly Mayne, Luke Akerman, Kyle Petten, Dawson Mercer and Ethan Pollett, amongst others.
“I’d be shocked if there is anything better than what we can throw at people,” said Bennett. “I really think we’ll compete. I do.
“We have an amazing group.”
A big part
Perhaps the biggest storyline of the tournament was the return of assistant captain Ethan Crosbie to the lineup for the final two games of the tournament.
Crosbie had been off due to injury for the beginning of play.
“He gives us such a presence,” said Bennett.
Crosbie has a knack for chipping in offensively, but really shines at the defensive end. He plays in all situations, takes big faceoffs and shuts down the opposition’s top line.
“He completes our lineup,” said Bennett.
What they do well
While the team is going to look to shore things up in the defensive end in the month before the tournament, Bennett said the team does one thing extremely well.
“Transitioning from defence to offense, we’re good,” he said.
The Ice pride themselves on turning teams over at its blue-line, transitioning and attacking.
“We don’t like to give up our blue-line and our transition from defence to offense is lightning quick,” said Bennett.
What makes that transition so dangerous, is that each line is capable of making teams pay if they turn the puck over.
“It doesn’t matter which line because we have so much speed,” said Bennett.
The Ice started the tournament with a 9-3 victory over the representatives from Western. That was followed by an 8-0 drubbing over Central IcePak.
In Game 3, the Ice picked up its second straight shutout with a 10-0 destruction of the Northern squad.
The Ice were finally tested in the round robin matchup with the Ruckus. The St. John’s team defeated Tri Pen 6-5 to set up the dramatic final.
“We had a bad turnover,” said Bennett.
That game was followed by a 7-2 victory over the Tri Com Cobras.
The Ice jumped on the Ruckus quickly. The team registered two quick goals to take a 2-0 advantage.
“It started to go our way at 2-0, you could just feel it,” said Bennett.
However, the Ruckus had previously came back from a 3-1 deficit in the round robin to beat the Ice.
“You didn’t feel safe at all,” said the coach.
Although this time, the script would be different.
Tri Pen grabbed a four-goal advantage before St. John’s put one behind the Ice goaltender.
“We felt like we were well in control then,” said Bennett.
The Ruckus would make the score 4-2 with just over six minutes to go in the third, but the Ice would add an empty net goal to seal the victory.
“It was a good game of hockey,” said Bennett.
Members of the team are: Tyler Dohey, Kyle Petten, Dawson Mercer, Ethan Crosbie, Luke Akerman, Shailynn Snow, Riley Mayne, Ethan Pollett, Lucas Adams, Micheal Ingram, Riley Petten, Caleb Andrews, Mark Davis, Dawson Laundry, Taran Leonard, Tyler Green, Lucas Russell, Liam Best and Cole Mackey.