Its finally back. Senior hockey that is. (Yes, that is what it takes for me to blog again.) If you missed our season promo this past weekend, you can check it out here (LINK). And just as the East fans (all 48 of them according to the crowd out on the West Coast) have been busy making their predictions on wholl finish where and go on to the Herder, Ill dive right in to the prognostication pool. 1. Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars Anyone who believes the CeeBees dont have a shot at first with the much talked about departure of the Delaneys, Wadden and Stevens, obviously havent seen this team play over the last three or four years. Fact is, those players are not the sum of the teams parts. If I were Chris Letemplier or Lee Noseworthy, I just dont take solace in having to deal with the likes Matthew Thomey, Shane Gamberg or Brent Lynch. And if Im Ray Dalton or Jon Adams, its not like Im freely waltzing into the CeeBees zone without the opposition from Mike Dyke or Matt French. This is a championship roster, short a few big guns, and my guess is the guys holding down the fort will try even harder this year to prove they didnt need the other four guys to get it done. And, if nothing else, having some heavyweights like Randy Sellars, Brad Sheppard and Joel Whelan around should assist the teams intimidation factor. If ya cant beat em, beat on em. About the only question mark I see is between the pipes. Last years Herder wasnt exactly Freddy Diamonds best stuff. 2. Mount Pearl H.J. Bartlett Electric Blades I have to say the guys in the Pearl have truly outdone themselves in their second year back in the league. Not only did they bring in 12 new players, but they made a conscious effort to get as many locals backs as possible (at least a dozen twin city residents dress for the Blades). You have to admire a team wanting to keep the spirit of the Avalon East alive (even if they did try to bolt over the summer!). Make no bones about it, the Blades were awful last year. Frankly, it was a miracle they managed to gut out three wins (while losing 21). But little else was expected from a group of just-graduated-juniors and the odd veteran. With Mark Chaplin, John Ball, Mike Lee and Brian Sutherland coming over from the West and the additions of C.J. Nolan and Mark Reddy the team gained invaluable senior experience. Throw in three more than capable juniors in Cory Blackmore, Kenny Pennell and goalie Devin OBrien and this becomes a team with a legitimate shot of going all the way. 3. Southern Shore Breakers Always in the hunt, always a contender. Thats the Breakers way. Losing Adam Parsons and Chris Langdon off the blueline is going to hurt, but not nearly as much as the absence of Berrick Loughlin, destined for the top line with the Clarenville Caribous. Bird Dog and the boys made up for it by picking up what I believe to be the best all-around player to join the East this year in Ray Dalton. Throw in a couple of top-notch former juniors in offensive-defenceman Jason Joyce and capable scorer David Hutchens and the Shore should make up for their losses. And yah, Dr. Graham Cook is gone. But in my mind, there isnt a backup in the league as dependable as Letemplier. 4. Torbay West Side Charlies Sharks Steve Power says his team doesnt get enough respect and Im inclined to agree with him. While I wish him better luck in that department this season, its going to be an uphill battle. The Sharks made the most of the draft by picking up six players, at least four of which should and probably will see plenty of action (and people say it doesnt work). That said, the team is significantly younger this season and in the East, thats hit or miss. At the same time, theres so many cagey veterans filling out this roster that its hard to predict how itll turn out. If it does turn to, well you know, at least the team will have one hell of a 50-50 guy in Joe Maynard this year. (Sorry, Joe. I couldnt resist) 5. Bell Island Wave Dave Brazil is going to get me for suggesting this especially considering he got a third place finish out of his roster last year but I think the club is going to need another season to come together as a unit. There are not a ton of new faces like there were in 2008-09, but now the team is faced with the challenge of playing together with the same group game in, game out. It sounds easy, but it seldom is. However, I can see the Wave getting better game by game as Brazil knows how to get the most out of his players. There you have it. Let the berating begin.
- July 27, 2010 - 13:55
Ken Ken Ken. I thought you had more hockey knowledge then this. I say flip a coin between Cee Bees and Shore for 1st place, with Mt Pearl in 3rd. Cee Bees are hungry and most important, going with mostly local guys. All of these players work hard every shift. Losing the big three will no doubt hurt, but it will open up the door for guys like Lynch amd Thomey (who is a top 3 player in the league) to shine. The only thing that is going hurt Cee Bees is losing a few d-man. The loss of Reardon, Stevens and Parsons is going to hurt a lot. They still have D_yke and French. But beyond that, they are thin. This team is going to be much tougher to play against then in past years. The additions of Keefe, Babb and Sellers (if he plays) are going to make things very interesting. It seems each team now has a bonified heavyweight. To be honest, this team is going to be a lot more fun to watch then the teams from the past couple of yrs. I see a lot more crashing and banging, and guys not afraid to mix it up. Good on them for moving forward.
As far as the shore go, yes losing Loughlin is bad, but how many goals did he score in the playoffs? Not many. A lot of his points/goals came against Bell Island and Mt Pearl last yr. He is a good player, but overrated in my opinion. The addition of Dalton will negate that. As well, their defence is still going to be similar to last year. The addition of Liam Wilson is big. He is a veteran who knows his role. Also, expect some of the younger guys like Rumsey and Morry to have decent yrs as well. The one question mark surrounding the breakers is goaltending. Well, I got a feeling that may change by Jan. Not going to get into it here, but rumour has it that they are going to be much stronger. As well, there is another top 6 forward or 2 on the way.
Yes mp they have added Chappy (who is going to set him up? Row? That's all they got. Their goaltending is still suspect at best and well...Ball and Lee are going to have a path beaten to the sin bin. Lee is nuts and Ball is too slow to keep up. Good number 5 or 6 d-man, but not a top 3 guy. I really like the direction they are going in and I believe that if there was a province wide league, they would compete because of the $$$. They are young, decitated and have great leadership throughout the organization. Expect great things from this team in yrs to come.
Torbay will finish 4th. Younger and faster, but still no stability between the pipes. O'Brien will be the man there before the year is out. Not to mention there defence is weak. Only 2 legit Sr d-men. Cooper and Power.
Bell Island will round out the standings but will be nipping at the sharks heals.