Short bench for a tall order

John
John Browne
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Last place Gander Flyers hoping to draft reinforcements

Christmas is a time for giving and receiving gifts, but you can’t blame the Gander Flyers and Clarenville Caribous if they’d prefer to be on the receiving end just before Santa comes.

The Flyers have just two wins in 10 games in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League heading into weekend play when they will take on the Mount Pearl H.J. Bartlett Electric Blades (5-5) at the Glacier.

Clarenville (5-2-3) shares second place with the Western Royals (6-3-1) but the Caribous are 1-4 in their last five games. The ‘Bous are playing host to the C.B.N. Eastlink CeeBee Stars (3-7-0) 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Clarenville Events Centre.

It’s been a frustrating season for Gander as coach Dennis Laing points out his team has only had a full lineup twice in 10 games, both of which they won.

“We’re very competitive when we have a full lineup. Ask the teams we’ve taken points from,” said Laing.

Laing said work and school commitments has kept some of his players out of the lineup for most of the season.

“That’s our main concern,” said Laing. “There are times when we’ve had only 14 or 15 skaters. We haven’t had a whole lot of luck.

“We’re pleased with our players in our second year in the league, but right now, the way things are set up, we have to wait for the next draft to maybe pick up some players.”

The second league draft for the 2013 season is slated for next Monday.

“When we came into the league last year there was already 125 players protected already,” noted Laing. “There wasn’t a whole lot left for us to pick from.

“This year, we had 25 on our list, but a couple of players went to Western Canada for work and a few others got jobs where they couldn’t commit to the games. That’s the problem we have. We can’t get any more players unless we get them through the draft. There may be 20 or so players going into that draft and maybe we’ll be fortunate to pick up a couple,” he said.

In the meantime, Laing expects a pretty good series against the Blades.

Game times are 8 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Laing laughed when asked what he has coming into Mount Pearl this weekend in terms of players.

“Not too sure, to be honest with you.”

Laing said he is expecting a competitive series. He noted Mount Pearl has a good skating team with “exceptional” goaltending.

“If we have a full lineup, it should be really good entertainment this weekend.”

The second last weekend of play before the Christmas break also has first-place the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts (9-1-0) visiting the Royals for a pair of game at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex in Deer Lake.

The games are 7:30 p.m. Saturday 1:30 Sunday afternoon.

AVALON EAST

The Northeast Eagles are seeking their fifth straight win when they play host to the Bell Island Family Drug Mart Blues tonight, the first of three games on tap in the Avalon East Senior Hockey League.

Game time is 8 p.m. at the Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay.

On Sunday, the Eagles take the trip across the tickle to take on the Blues in their own barn at Msgr. Bartlett Memorial Arena in Wabana at 7 p.m while the St. John’s Toyota Plaza Caps travel to the Mobile to play Southern Shore Puglisevich Breakers at 7:15 p.m.

JUNIOR HOCKEY

The St. John’s Hickman Automotive Caps and Mount Pearl Mark’s Dakota Wild will be looking to gain some ground on the league-leading, but idle Avalon Roebothan McKay Marshall Capitals this weekend when they face each other Sunday night at the Glacier in Penny Kia St. John’s Junior Hockey League action this weekend.

The game between the second-place Caps and third-place Wild gets underway 7:15 p.m.

Kicking off the weekend are a pair of games tonight featuring the Trinity Placentia I.J. Smith Home Building Centre Flyers at C.B.N. MoorFrost Stars at Bay Arena (7:15 p.m.) along with BK Services Celtics at Southern Shore C&W Offshore Breakers in Mobile (7:40 p.m.)

The other game this weekend has the Flyers playing host to the C.B.R. Assante Wealth Management Renegades 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Whitbourne Stadium.

MIDGET HOCKEY

A five-team, three-day, 10-game weekend major midget hockey tournament begins today at Whitbourne Stadium.

The mid-season tourney includes the St. John's Maple Leafs, Western Kings, Central IcePak, St. John's Privateers and Tri-Pen Ospreys.

The tournament begins with a triple-header today. St. John’s Maple Leafs takes on Central at 11:30 a.m., followed by St. John’s Privateers against Western Kings at 2 p.m. and Central against Tri-Pen at 5:30 p.m.

The league had a pre-season tourney in the Goulds and have a year-end tourney scheduled for Lewisporte prior to the start of the playoffs which will feature the top four teams.

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Flyers, Newfoundland Senior Hockey League, Bell Island Family Drug Mart Maple Leafs BK Services Celtics Tri-Pen Ospreys.The

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Western Canada, Deer Lake.The St. John's Western Kings Wabana Goulds Lewisporte

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