GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – The Clarenville Ford Caribous are your Central West Senior Hockey League leaders.
With a sweep of the third-place Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts over the weekend, the Caribous upped their point total to 16, one better than the Flyers.
“We came here with a playoff mentality, and we played like the playoffs have started,” said Caribous’ head coach Rebecca Russell following Sunday’s 5-3 win. “We knew we could take over first with two big wins this weekend. Coming into Grand Falls-Windsor, you always know it’s going to be an intense weekend with the players and fans, so we knew it was important for us to play like it’s playoff time.”
For a while on Sunday, it looked like the Cataracts were well on their way to earning a split after dropping the opener 5-3 on Saturday night. Danny Wicks and Andre Gill scored second-period goals just five seconds apart, and the Cats had all the momentum with a 3-0 lead. However, the Caribous responded with five unanswered goals, including an empty-netter, to secure the sweep.
Cats’ head coach Patrick Yetman said he saw a little too much individual play after his team went ahead 3-0, and they never played within a structure.
On a positive note, he liked what he saw in the opening 24 minutes of the game when his players played within a system and were racking up the shots.
Another big positive was the play of goaltender Jason Stone, who has impressed his coach since filling in for injured start AJ Whiffen.
“He played fantastic…he certainly did his job this weekend,” said Yetman. “I’m really pleased with him, but I’m not pleased with our effort or our focus. I’d say we worked hard, but we’re not in the game mentally.”
Yetman is hopeful Whiffen will be available when playoffs begin, and in the meantime, he’ll confidently turn to Stone.
While one Whiffen focuses on getting healthy, another made a huge statement with two wins over his former team.
Tyler Whiffen, younger brother of AJ, got the start in both games against the Cataracts, and left his coach singing his praises.
“I’m not surprised by the way he played today or last night. I think there are times when he gets put to the backburner. He has a brother who’s obviously an outstanding goaltender, and we’ve got (Jason) Churchill here who has been a great goalie in this league for many years, so I think Tyler is forgotten about a little bit. It was a statement win for him today especially. I thought he stood strong for us.”
Cataracts penalized points
Prior to the weekend set against Clarenville, the Cataracts were informed they were being deducted four points for using an ineligible player for two games during the Jan. 13 weekend.
When asked about the situation, Yetman said all he knew was that the Cataracts appealed the decision, but to his understanding, the league upheld its ruling.
The Cataracts posted a statement on the league website regarding the decision, and made it quite clear they were unhappy with the decision.
The team called it an “innocent mistake” by a team representative who was filling in for someone who usually files the weekly electronic list at Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador for games being played that week.
The team said that team rep did not notice the name of Jarrod King, who “…was on the team's protected list properly, and on the intended game sheet list properly, but, totally un-intended, was not on the HNL listing for that week.”
Through the statement, the Cats said the team is, “put behind the eight ball” in trying to finish the season on a positive note.
“The ruling has a very negative impact on the Cataracts and all the efforts that have been made this season to get enough players for the roster, and the constantly changing call-ups and replacements needed, and now, (at this late point at the end of the season), the team is 'put behind the eight ball' in trying to finish positively…”