Cataracts quickly exerting dominance in young season

Robin Short
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Grand Falls-Windsor improves to 4-0 with pair of wins over defending Herder champ CeeBees

The Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts, with a lineup bolstered by a pair of point-producing imports and a core group of returnees, remain the only unbeaten team in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League after two weekends of play.

Gander Flyers’ import forward Peter Campbell tries to make a move around Mount Pearl H.J. Bartlett Electric Blades’ defenceman Mike Stevens in the third period of Sunday's Newfoundland Senior Hockey League game at the Gander Community Centre. The Blades won the game 3-2 in a shoot out, while the Flyers won the opener on Saturday night 5-2.

The Cataracts improved to 4-0 with two relatively easy wins over the reigning Herder Memorial Trophy champs from Conception Bay North, beating the Eastlink CeeBee Stars 7-1 Saturday night and 7-3 Sunday afternoon in Harbour Grace.

“We’re getting timely scoring, the ‘D’ is really chipping in and Whif (A.J. Whiffen) is stepping up. We feel real comfortable with a lead with him back there,” said high-scoring Grand Falls-Windsor right-winger Andrew Pearcey, summing up the three keys to on-ice success — offence, defence and goaltending.

The Cataracts finished 20-3-1 last season, but were upset in the opening round of the playoffs by the Cinderella CeeBees.

Rather than stand pat, the Cats boosted their lineup with the addition of imports Cam Fergus and Rob Hennigar, a pair of Ontario natives with Canadian university and minor pro experience.

“Hennigar is a fantastic hockey player,” said Pearcey. “He makes it look easy.

“And the same can be said for Cam. He plays at both ends of the ice, he can skate, shoot, play the PK and power play. He’s one of those guys you want on the ice at the end of each period. He’s just a good overall hockey player.

“We’re hopeful these guys can help put us over the top. They add a different element to our game.”

After four games, Hennigar leads all scorers with three goals and seven assists, while Fergus has three goals and three helpers.

Pearcey, of course, is no slouch himself. The former senior league scoring champ and MVP had a goal and two assists Saturday night, and added a helper Sunday afternoon, skating with Fergus and Mike Sibley.

Hennigar centres a trio with Andre Gill and Brandon Nicholas.

“We feel we have some unfinished business,” Pearcey said of last year’s playoff collapse following a brilliant regular season. “It’s something we talk about a lot.

“We want to stay strong all year, and build to a point where we are playoff-ready. I think we might have gotten a bit complacent last year. After a win, it was like, ‘A win is a win’. But there were some games we did not deserve to win, or A.J. stole a game for us.

“We have to be at a point where we are gearing towards the playoffs all season and when the post season starts, we’re ready to go,” said the 28-year-old St. John’s native, who starred in Tier II junior hockey in Pembroke, Ont., Amherst, N.S. and Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Sunday, Fergus, Gill and Nicholas all scored two goals and Brandon Street had one to power the Cats.

Luke Gallant, a former St. John’s Fog Devils defenceman Pearcey says could play pro tomorrow, had three assists, and Hennigar and Mike Brent each had two helpers.

Scoring for the CeeBees were Jordan Escott, Chris Sparkes and Mike Dyke.

Whiffen made 31 saves, while Joey Perricone, a California-born import goalie getting his first taste of provincial senior hockey action this past weekend, was tested 53 times.

Saturday night, Hennigar matched Pearcey’s game with a goal and two assists as well, while Gill netted a pair. Sibley, Brent and Sam Hounsell scored once.

Matt Bragg had the lone goal for the CeeBees.

Whiffen stopped 36 of 37 shots, while Perricone, in his first game, was peppered with 43 shots.

Elsewhere Sunday, Ryan Graham had the only goal in the shootout as the Mount Pearl H.J. Bartlett Blades got by the homestanding Gander Flyers 3-2.

Graham and Chris Mooney scored in regulation time for the Blades at the Gander Community Centre. Peter Campbell had a pair for the Flyers.

Patrick O’Brien was busy in the Gander goal, facing 49 shots. Marek Benda was tested 24 times in the Mount Pearl goal.


Western 4, Clarenville 3 (Saturday)

At the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex in Deer Lake, Scott Doody and Chris Peach beat Roger Kennedy in the shootout to give the Royals the extra point.

Doody and Peach also scored in regulation time, along with Stephen Simms. Michael Hynes had two assists.

Scoring for the Caribous were Ryan Desrosiers, Keith Delaney and Mitchell Oake. Desrosiers forced the shootout with his goal at 12:35 of the third period.

Bryan Gillis made 25 saves for the Royals. Kennedy was tested 28 times.


Gander 5, Mount Pearl 2 (Saturday)

At the Gander Community Centre, Campbell scored two goals and assisted on two others, while Grant Donovan had three helpers to give the Flyers their first win on the year.

Rob Mignardi netted two goals for the winners, and Sean Wadden scored once. Blake Gallagher and Mark Roebothan replied for the visiting Blades.


Clarenville 4, Western 3 (Friday)

In Deer Lake, the first game of the Caribous-Royals series also went to a shootout, and it was Dale Sullivan who was the only shooter to score.

Ryan Delaney had a goal and two assists for the Caribous. Sullivan scored once in regulation, as did Dustin Russell.

Veteran Darren Langdon netted a pair of goals for the Royals in his hometown. Ryan Penney had the single.

Gillis made 30 saves, while Kennedy turned aside 28 shots.

Organizations: Royals, Gander Community Centre, Blades Flyers Caribous-Royals

Geographic location: California, Grand Falls, Harbour Grace Ontario Deer Lake Pembroke Amherst Charlottetown Brandon Street Mount Pearl

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