Corey Crocker says all 23 players on the Conception Bay North Eastlink CeeBee Stars believe the team will be involved playoff hockey at S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in a few weeks time.
“The guys know what’s at stake,” says the CeeBees’ coach. “We’ve got two games at home and we wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Those games — tonight against the Mount Pearl H.J. Bartlett Electric Blades and Saturday night against the Corner Brook Royals — are the last of the regular season at S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium for the CeeBees, who close out the schedule with back-to-back games against the Royals at Corner Brook’ Pepsi Centre next weekend.
But Crocker insists C.B.N. is in the one-game-at-a-time mode, especially since a win tonight would see the CeeBees take control of their own destiny. It would put them a point up on the Blades, and if they continue winning and beat the Royals in the remaining three games, they would finish ahead of Mount Pearl, no matter what the Blades do the rest of the way.
“We’re going to take care of tonight first,” Crocker said. “We’re not looking ahead to Saturday. If we do, we’ll get behind the eight-ball.”
The CeeBees are 3-5 since Crocker took over for the fired Steve Power earlier this season, but that record could very well be 5-3 were it not for a pair of 4-3 shootout losses to the Blades last weekend.
“But we did manage to get points, which is a positive,” says a confident-sounding Crocker. “It’s all about making progress each week, with the goal to make the playoffs.”
Unfortunately for Crocker and his charges, time is running out.
“We’re not making excuses. We’re in this hole because of what we did and we have to get ourselves out of it. I think it’ll be a great battle.”
When Crocker initially stepped in as coach, his first goal in turning the team around was “changing the atmosphere” around the CeeBees.
“The CeeBees have a rich history back to the 1960s and we had to rejuvenate that and what it means to play for the CeeBees.
“They needed to take pride in winning again.”
Crocker also made sure the players started to be accountable for what was happening on the ice.
“The message I sent to the players was that this is not minor hockey where we’re developing players. We’re picking men to play in a provincial senior league and we want to win. You have to take it serious and be accountable every single game if you want to win because it is such a tight league.”
With the experience and leadership on the team, Crocker believes his message didn’t fall on deaf ears.
“I don’t have to motivate that much,” he says. “There are leaders who are going to do that and you know the guys are going to be ready.”
Attendance at S.W. Moores has been down all season, but Crocker hopes to see the stands packed with fans supporting the CeeBees tonight and Saturday.
“Harbour Grace is a tough place to play for opposing teams and a full house is like a seventh player on the ice.”
In other games this weekend, the Clarenville Caribous welcome the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts to town for a pair of games Saturday and Sunday. Also on Sunday, the Royals are at the Glacier to take on the Blades.
Team GP W L SOL Pts
Clarenville 22 16 4 2 34
Grand Falls-Windsor 20 12 6 2 26
Corner Brook 20 10 10 0 20
Mount Pearl 20 7 10 3 17
C.B.N. 20 6 10 4 16