Blades carving out a place in NLSHL ranks

Robin
Robin Short
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It’s only one win out of 24 on the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League schedule, but the Mount Pearl H.J. Bartlett Electric Blades are hoping to build on their big victory on the road last weekend.

Mount Pearl skated into Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium and after dropping the opening game of a two-game series 3-0 to Grand Falls-Windsor, the Blades rebounded with a 4-3 decision over the Cataracts Sunday afternoon, snapping the Cats’ season-opening win streak at seven games.

The fact Mount Pearl managed a split in a tough building against a rock-solid Herder Memorial Trophy contender with a lineup minus a few veterans — namely Grant Kenny, Steve Yetman and leading scorer Chris Mooney — is all the more impressive.

“I think we proved to ourselves, and to every other team, that we can play in this league,” said Blades general manager Jim Hare.

Mount Pearl took a respite from the league last season, re-emerging in 2013-14 with somewhat of a different look. For starters, there’s a bit more of a Mount Pearl influence on the Blades with Kenny, Ryan Graham and injured veteran Mike Lee, and junior grads Cory Blackmore, Steve Tilley, Steve Bailey, Robert Barrett and Trevor Thorne.

“We want to have a Mount Pearl presence, and certainly (team president) Harry Bartlett’s goal is to bring the Herder to Mount Pearl,” Hare said.

The team does have a couple of imports in goaltender Marek Benda, a Czech Republic native with Quebec Major Junior Hockey League experience, and forward Blake Gallagher of Halifax, who led the Cornell Big Red NCAA team in scoring in 2009-10, the year Colin Greening of the Ottawa Senators finished second in points.

“In addition to having the local kids, the reality is to be competitive in this league, you need to bring in others,” Hare said.

The Blades have remained competitive so far, with a 4-4 record as Mount Pearl prepares to play host to the Western Royals this Friday and Saturday at The Glacier.

In fact, excluding the Gander Flyers with only one win in eight starts, it’s a very competitive senior circuit, with three points separating first from third, and the Blades are only three points behind the Royals, who sit in the No. 3 spot.

The struggling C.B.N. Eastlink CeeBee Stars, reigning Herder champs, are struggling with two wins in eight games.

“We’ve lost three games in which there was an empty net goal, and two by shootout,” Hare says.

The weekend series against the Royals is only Mount Pearl’s third and fourth games at home this season. The Blades’ home opener drew a crowd of about 900, Hare said, and their second game Nov. 16 against the Clarenville Caribous, the same night the St. John’s IceCaps were entertaining the Worcester Sharks in an American Hockey League contest at Mile One Centre, drew less than that.

“We always draw better on a Friday night,” said Hare, who noted of the Blades’ 10 remaining games at home, only two will be going head-to-head with the IceCaps.

“It’s tough when you’re fighting the IceCaps,” he conceded.

Game times against the Darren Langdon-led Royals are 8 p.m. Friday and 7:30 Saturday night.

rshort@thetelegram.com

Organizations: IceCaps, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Cornell Big Red NCAA Ottawa Senators Worcester Sharks American Hockey League

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium, Czech Republic

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  • Donovans Irving Regular
    November 29, 2013 - 06:30

    Dead on chinny chin chin. Morgue it is. Nobody wants to play there. Should have kept Chaplin behind the bench, a coach the players respected.

  • Hare on your chinny chin chin
    November 28, 2013 - 11:32

    Fold again next year if things don't change. 4-4 is nothing to boast about. You can't survive in the league playing in front of a morgue in mt. pearl with 300 fans. Talking to the players after the last home game and they said they gets paid but has to give some of it back to harry to buy tickets on beer and 50/50 to make it seem like there's people buying them. Tis the second time this crowd running the show left and come back to sr. hockey, won't be the last. Who's the one on the ice between periods? Has to be someone better in to the glacier to do that.