Avalon East Senior Hockey League
With the holiday break in the rear view mirror, the attention
shifts to the road ahead and securing a playoff spot as five-team Avalon East
Senior Hockey League returns to action this weekend.
The five-game weekend kicks off 8 o’clock Friday night at the Jack Byrne Arena
in Torbay where the Tapper’s Northeast Eagles, winners of four straight and
seven of their last night heading into the Christmas and New Year break, hope to
keep their good fortunes alive when they host the St. John’s Green Sleeves
The Eagles had a slow start to the campaign with a single victory in eight games.
They strung together a few wins here and there, but when they were sporting a
4-6-2 mid-season-record, coach Doug Jackman says it was gut check time. It
came in the second intermission of a game against the Harbour Grace Ocean
Enterprises CeeBee Stars.
“I think we made a decision at that point that we had to turn the ship around,”
says Jackman, whose club went on to collect a 2-0 shutout on the strength of
Mark Yetman’s 52-save performance, kicking off their current winning streak.
“The adversity we faced prior to that is a reminder of how tight the league is and
we will have to battle every game to remain in the playoff picture. That's where
we want to be and that will keep our group motivated.”
Helping fuel that mid-season resurgence was the addition of veteran senior
hockey player Steve Yetman of Shea Heights.
“Steve is not only one of the best centermen in senior hockey but he's a winner,”
Jackman says. “When we added him he made everyone better, his presence
brought a sense of excitement and professionalism towards our season.”
The Eagles are back in action Saturday night at 7:30 when they hit the ice at the
Danny Cleary Community Centre to tangle with the CeeBees.
Also on Saturday night, the Hickman Chrysler Bell Island Blues are hoping to
change their fortunes when they open a back-to-back home-and-home set with
the Puglisevich Southern Shore Breakers at the Msgr. Bartlett Memorial Arena in
Wabana starting at 7 p.m.
“We have to play mistake free and capitalize on our chances,” says coach Steve
Gosse. “We have one of the top goalies in the league in Matt Jenkins, and have
a young team overall. I’m hoping we can come together these last six games to
get in the playoffs.”
In a stark contrast to the Eagles, the Blues were solid out of the gate this season,
winning four of their first six. In the twelve games since, Bell Island has mustered
just one win and been outscored 63-28. Coach Steve Gosse attributes much of
their issues to missing players due to work and injury, a symptom he admits is
common throughout the league but has hit his club especially hard considering
the quality of player the Blues have been missing.
They were without top defenceman Tyler Gale for 11 games because of career
commitments; Steve Pearson missed a half dozen contests due to work; Mark
Tobin’s work schedule hasn’t allowed him to hit the ice since October; and
captain Tyler Adams missed the last eight on the injured the list.
“The good thing is that there are 12 points that we have up for grabs, (Tyler)
Adams is due back soon, we have a few players on the radar for the last draft,
and we’re hoping to activate a couple key players off the 35-man protected list to
give us a push down the stretch.”
On Sunday, the Blues head to Mobile to face the Breakers at the Southern Shore
Arena. Game time is 7 p.m. The weekend concludes with the CeeBees taking on
the Caps at the Goulds Sports Arena Monday at 8:30 p.m.
STANDINGS (As of Jan. 5, 2017)
TEAM GP W L OTL GF GA PTS
CeeBees 17 14 2 1 67 33 29
Breakers 18 10 7 1 65 57 21
Eagles 16 8 6 2 61 49 18
Caps 17 6 9 2 47 61 14
Blues 18 5 13 0 48 89 10
SCORING LEADERS (Jan. 5, 2017)
Player, Team GP G A PTS
Sam Roberts, CeeBees 16 6 19 25
Matthew Thomey, CeeBees 17 11 13 24
Jeremy Nicholas, Breakers 17 14 8 22
Andrew Gale, Breakers 16 6 11 17
Chris Thorne, Eagles 13 7 10 17
Robert Slaney, CeeBees 11 4 13 17
Chris Sparkes, Eagles 13 5 11 16
Scott McCarthy, Breakers 15 3 12 15
Cody Batten, CeeBees 13 11 4 15
Colin Feehan, CeeBees 12 3 11 14
GOALTENDING LEADERS* (Jan. 5, 2017)
Player, Team GP REC GAA SV%
A.J. Whiffen, CeeBees 15 13-3 1.57 .956
Ben Goss, Breakers 8 4-3 2.56 .938
Mark Yetman, Eagles 15 7-8 2.71 .933
Kyle Downer, Caps 11 3-8 3.39 .918
Matt Jenkins, Blues 16 4-11 5.16 .884
Mark Power, Breakers 7 3-3 3.89 .916
The Sea-Hawks are back home this weekend to take on St. Mary's to open up the second half of the season. Coming into the two game set, Memorial is in first place in the AUS, 4 points up on Dalhousie. The games this weekend are worth 4 points a piece, meaning a couple of victories could provide some much needed security atop the conference.
St. Mary's is currently 4-3, but the record doesn't tell the whole story. They are best 3-point shooting team in Atlantic Canada, at just over 38 percent as a team, and are allowing the second fewest points, just under 80 per game.
The 4-3 record might indicate a middling team, but the Huskies have shown flashes of dominance at times, and will surely look to put everything together in the second half. The key for them is going to be consistency on both ends of the floor.
They'll need to be consistent against a Sea-Hawks team that rolls into January with the best record in the AUS at 6-2. They've been a force this year, and will no doubt be looking to make a statement this weekend, following a disappointing loss to UPEI.
And while that loss was disappointing, the play of Daniel Gordon and Vasilije Curcic in the win on Saturday's game was not. The pair combined for 52 of the team's 85 points, and were particularly great in the 4th quarter.
Both teams profile similarly, combining good defense with smart shooting. Perhaps the biggest difference is in philosophy. St. Mary's ranks near the bottom of the AUS in assists per game, just over 11, while Memorial is near the top with nearly 17. This is an indication of the iso heavy style St. Mary's relies on. That's certainly not a bad idea when Marquis Clayton is on your roster. He's in the top 5 in the conference, averaging 20 points per game. He's been efficient with his scoring, too. His true shooting percentage, a metric which weights the value of each shot, is 60.4%.
The Sea-Hawks will need to shut Clayton down and force the ball out of his hands if they hope to continue their reign atop the AUS. Look for them to avoid getting down early, something that cost them against UPEI. As Always you can watch the games live on AUS.tv.
The Sea-Hawks return to Memorial this weekend to take on the St. Mary's Huskies in a two game set. St. Mary's is a perfect 7 and 0 on the season and the Sea-Hawks are going to be in tough against the only undefeated team left in the conference.
St. Mary's has been one of the best defensive team's in the AUS this year, surrendering a stingy, league low, 55 points per game to opponents. They've outscored opponents by 99 points on the whole this year good for a margin of victory of just more than 14 points per game. The Huskies have been wholly dominant this year.
The Sea-Hawks on the other hand have struggled this season, finding themselves at 3 and 5 for the season, second last in the conference. They've been solid enough offensively, averaging about 61 points per game, while giving up just more than 63. Perhaps one area of concern for the Sea-Hawks as they kick off the second half of this season will be rebounding. They are currently the second worst team in the conference on the glass.
When you look at the way they're being outworked on the glass, it certainly helps explain why an otherwise good team finds itself near the bottom of the conference coming into January. Their point differential per game is negative 1.75, which could easily be in the plus if the rebounding improves.
Coach Mark English echoed that sentiment in his comments this week, stressing the need to be consistent and put together a complete game. "We need to focus on the little things and keep them off the offensive glass and not let their main players get going early with solid individual and team defence. We have been improving all season. I'm proud of the effort the girls put forth in the first half of our season. We have yet to put together a full game of solid offence and great defence. If we can find a way to keep our Defence where it has been and get rolling on offence, like I know we can, we can be a special team."
For St. Mary's, they'll be looking to team leading scorer's Jenny Lewis and Angelina Carvey to carry the load offensively. Incredibly, both are in the top 5 in league scoring, averaging 16.3 and 13.6 respectively. For Memorial, it will be Sydney Stewart looking to spark the offence.
This game will feature two of the best interior defenders in the AUS, the Sea-Hawks Brooklyn Wright and St. Mary's Shanieka Wood. Both rank in the top 5 in blocks per game.
As always, the games can be seen live on AUS.TV. Saturday's game is at 6:00 and Sunday's tip
Metro Basketball - Margaret Breen Memorial Basketball Tournament results for Janusury 5th
Game # 1
M5. 56 Team Kielly 38
M5 Mark Dawson 15
TK Chad Jarvis 10
Game # 2
Swilers 42 Sundance 28
Swilers Cory Freake 12 Wayne Button 10
Sundance Brad Drover 10