Road woes

Matt Molloy
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CeeBees sweep Flyers by combined score of 16-4

It wasn’t the weekend the Gander Flyers were expecting, especially after such a solid performance against the Western Royals on Jan. 5.

Gander Flyers

The Flyers travelled to Harbour Grace for a pair of games against the Conception Bay North Eastlink CeeBee Stars over the weekend, and dropped both games by a combined score of 16-4.

The CeeBees got plenty of help from two new players, Ben Duffy and Matthew Quinn. Duffy scored three goals and added five assists over the weekend, while Quinn, who signed with the CeeBees shortly after being released by the Flyers, scored twice and added three assists.

Gander-born Mike Dyke, captain of the CeeBees, scored a hat trick on Sunday.

The CeeBees defeated the Flyers on Saturday night 6-1, and again on Sunday 10-3.

“I think the CeeBees got the jump on us Saturday night. They added a couple of players, and the response to that was really positive, and there was a good crowd at the rink,” said Flyers’ head coach Dennis Laing on Monday. “We were ready, but I guess we weren’t completely ready, and they got the jump on us. It was scoreless after one, they took a 2-1 lead into the third, and they got the breaks in the third period. They played better than us on Saturday night.”

Laing felt the team was ready to avenge its five-goal loss on Sunday, but early penalty trouble put a halt to any momentum the team hoped to build.

The CeeBees scored two power-play goals in the opening 12 minutes. Dyke scored an even-strength goal a little later on, and the CeeBees took a 3-1 lead into the second period.

The CeeBees continued to find the back of the net in the second and scored four more times to increase their lead to 7-1.

Laing said the team had to play catch-up from the beginning, and the CeeBees took advantage of it.

“We started well on Sunday, but we got into some penalty trouble, and their power play, with their recent additions, is very good. They burned us, and really took it to us on the power play,” said Laing. “From there we had to play catch-up, and when you have to play catch-up against a team like the CeeBees have there, you’re going to lose your focus sometimes. We tried to force the issue, and we opened the ice up too much and they have enough offensive talent to burn us, which they did.”

When asked what had to change, especially this weekend when the second-place Clarenville Caribous visit the Gander Community Centre, Laing said the focus has to be on the defensive side of the puck.

When a team gives up 16 goals in a weekend, Laing said the focus can only be on team defence.

“I think we lose our focus in the game sometimes, and we have to play that 60-minute game. We have to put that 60-minute effort in, and we have to be more responsible,” said Laing. “We gave up 16 goals in two games against the CeeBees, but against Western (on Jan. 5) we scored six goals and only gave up two, and one of those came late in the game. We know we can play a 60-minute game, so we have to focus on the defensive side. As a team, I think we have to find where our focus is because sometimes it’s hard to find that focus when you play different teams, and every team brings a different level. Hopefully, this weekend, we’ll work on keeping the puck out of the net after giving up so many goals over the weekend in Harbour Grace.”

We have to be positive, because if you can get a few wins and get into that groove, anything can happen. Dennis Laing

Laing got to see newest Flyer Jonathan Reid compete in Harbour Grace over the weekend and, although he didn’t put up any points in his debut, Laing believes Reid has the ability to play well wherever he is in the lineup.

He doesn’t come with a lot of size, and is registered at 5’8”, 170 pounds on the league website. However, what he lacks in girth he makes up for with grit.

“Jon hasn’t played in a while, but he has grit and he has speed, and he’s smart with the puck. Given the chance, I know he can fit with our team,” said Laing. “What I like about his game is his energy, and he’s a hard worker. He’s an offensive player, definitely, and I think he can fit in on the third line. However, if somebody gets hurt on our top two lines, Jon is a guy who has enough skill that he can be moved up to either the first or second line.”

The Flyers currently sit in last place with 11 points, two behind the fifth-place CeeBees. Gander has seven games left on the schedule — two against the Caribous, two against the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts and three against the Royals.

Although the remaining schedule is a tough one, Laing still believes anything can happen, especially if the Flyers get hot at the right time.

“We have Clarenville coming here this weekend, and we have series coming up against Grand Falls-Windsor and Western. With the way this league is, anybody can win; it all depends on if you can get the right momentum going and get the right combinations going,” he said. “We have to be positive, because if you can get a few wins and get into that groove, anything can happen. Look at the CeeBees over the weekend. They brought in some new guys, and they outplayed us by far, and we’ll admit that.

“The teams were changing, but now that the protected lists are done, teams can’t change. Right now, it is what it is and we have what we have, so my job is to get them playing a lot better. Hopefully, we’ll pick up a few wins down the stretch and get some momentum going for the playoffs.”

Steve Brazil scored the lone goal for the Flyers on Saturday night, while Peter Campbell scored two on Sunday, with a single coming from Rob Mignardi.

mmolloy@ganderbeacon.ca

Twitter: @BeaconSports12

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