The Tri Pen Osprey have found themselves in a big hole after a 6-1 loss to the Central IcePak on Feb. 22 in Game 4 of the team’s best-of-7 Newfoundland Major Midget Hockey League semifinal series.
The loss means the Osprey have found themselves down three games to one ahead of a crucial Game 5 showdown at the Bay Arena on Feb. 23.
Coming back from down 3-1 is a daunting task for even the most hardened squad and the same goes for the Osprey.
Coach Byron Vatcher said the key for his charges will be playing their game.
“When we come out tomorrow, we have to stay out of the penalty box and finish around the net,” he said. “We’re getting some pucks to the net, but we’re not getting that second chance. They’re defence are good at clearing the puck.
“We have to get in and force them a little more in their zone.”
The IcePak are a daunting task for any team in the province. Featuring standout forwards Adam Dawe and Jordan Maher, Central moves the puck like seasoned pros and are not opposed to getting their noses dirty.
But, Vatcher believes his team has the drive to beat them.
“We have to come out and jump on them,” said the coach. “If they want to play more hockey, it’s there for them.”
The IcePak got on the board first when Mitchell Lewis jammed a loose back under the left pad of Osprey’s starter Riley Akerman. Hunter John and Jared Lush had the assists.
In between the first and second goal, both Akerman and IcePak keeper Noah Weir were sublime. Both made big saves when called upon.
A bad bounce on a clearing attempt produced the IcePak’s second goal. Garham Oldford took advantage, receiving a pass from Maher and beating the Osprey goaltender. Nick Fitzgerald had the other helper.
After a first period that featured plenty of big hits, scoring chances, tape-to-tape passes and superb goaltending, things started going south for Tri Pen midway in through the second frame.
Already trailing 2-0, the Osprey got into a bit of penalty trouble. That coupled with costly turnovers created a large deficit for the team to overcome.
The IcePak scored three times in the period versus the Osprey’s lone goal. The highlight was undoubtedly Central’s Adam Dawe dancing around a Tri Pen defender before beating Akerman over his right shoulder.
Michael Mason and Nick Fitzgerald had the other goals in the period, while Adam Oates replied for the Osprey.
Trailing 5-1 after the second, the IcePak would get one more in the third to put the game out of reach. Jared Lush had the goal.
“We’re playing a good team. They move the puck well and they’re hard to defend against,” said Vatcher.
The Osprey will try to avoid elimination when Game 5 gets underway at 2 p.m. at the Bay Arena on Feb. 23.