By Kyle Reid | Irish Loop Post
Despite a slow start, the Puglisevich Southern Shore Senior Breakers are still holding their own in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League this season and are looking to make a run in the standings in the New Year.
Currently sporting an ugly-at-first-sight win-loss record of 3-6, the senior Breakers are still in the mix, sitting a respectable third in the East Coast Senior Hockey League’s standings as of Monday.
And with the top of the NSHL tight this season, the Southern Shore squad is only a win behind the Grand-Falls Windsor Cataracts, who have a game in hand over the Breakers, for second overall in NSHL standings. The CB Blues of Conception Bay South and Kelly Ford Gander Flyers are tied for first.
“We’ve got a lot of really great skill,” said rookie Head Coach Josh Lunden, a former pro hockey player who had a couple of stints with the St. John’s Ice Caps. “We haven’t got the bounces yet, but the second half of the year is coming up and we’re looking to get on a roll heading into the playoffs.”
Lunden said that the team has played better than their record would indicate, and he’s pushing his players to tighten up in the defensive end to hopefully add a couple of notches to the win column and make a big push after the break.
“(Offensive) zone play takes care of itself,” said Lunden. “You can’t teach guys to score goals…we’re trying to work on our defensive game where you can teach positional hockey, you can teach guys where to be and where they need to be to support the puck.”
Offence has undoubtedly been a strong point for the Breakers so far this season. The squad is once again icing productive forward Jeremy Nicholas alongside last year’s team points leader Peter Kavanagh. Both veterans are sitting in the top-10 in NSHL scoring at the break. Forward Andrew Gale, who was limited to only a handful of games last season, is leading the team in points, adding another weapon to a highly productive Breakers offence.
The Breakers have also made some significant moves early in the season, acquiring high-scoring defenseman Daniel Cadigan along with goaltender Mark Yetman, forward Matthew Oates and forward Chris Mooney, in the hopes that the added depth will pay off down the stretch.
“We haven’t got Mooney into the line-up yet,” noted Lunden. “But the three that we have, have significantly helped the team. They’re all great additions.”
The Southern Shore senior squad has been on both the giving and the receiving end of a few blow-out games early in the season, but the hockey has tightened up for the Breakers closer to the break, and the team’s goals for and against-differential is sitting at -1 as of Monday; a good indicator that the team is better than their record would imply.
“Lately it’s been close,” said Lunden. “We’re just looking to come out on the other end of them on the second half.”
The West-Coast teams, added in the newly formed NSHL as part of the Central-West Senior Hockey League, have also created a step up in the level of competition for the league this season, Lunden noted.
“They’ve got good teams out there,” said Lunden, adding the Breakers played both teams this past weekend but the games fell away from the team in the later periods. The Breakers lost to the Gander Flyers on Saturday and were manhandled for much of the game against the Grand Falls Cataracts on Sunday.
“They’re definitely giving us a good test…but we go and visit them in the New Year,” said Lunden.
The Breakers’ head coach said the players have been enjoying the higher calibre hockey, along with adding a bit more excitement for the Southern Shore fans.
“It’s all a work in progress and it’s been fun for me,” said Lunden. “(We’re) trying to put an exciting brand of hockey on the ice so the players can play and enjoy it, as well as fans can enjoy it and come and watch.”