The Gander Bantam B Flyers just got off the ice following a 6-1 loss to the Conception Bay Region Renegades in the gold-medal game of the Gander Co-Op bantam Invitational Hockey Tournament, but head coach Howie Field was already talking about what his team can do to get better.
After listening to Field talk about his team for a few minutes, his vision gets quite clear - he wants to see a hard skating team with plenty of heart.
Following Jan. 29's loss, Field is slowly seeing that vision come to fruition.
"They're skating, and they're winning the puck battles in the corner," said Field, when asked about his team's strengths. "Anybody on this team is willing to go into the corners, and anybody is willing to take a hit if it's going to help the team."
In saying that, Field knows his boys need more practice before they can effectively use their strengths to their utmost advantage.
The boys aren't scared to dig the puck out of the corner, but Field wants to see them start winning races into the corners.
Although the Renegades were a little faster in the gold-medal game, Field knows his team is on the right track to getting faster.
"We need to work on beating the other guys to the puck," said Field. "All of the guys are buying into that style of play, and they're all working on getting better."
Field knows it's going to take work, and all one had to do was watch the championship final to realize the Renegades were just that much faster than the Flyers.
In fact, Field knows exactly where the game was won and lost.
"They have a very good team, and they just outplayed us," said Field of the Renegades. "They outworked us in the corners, and we just need to continue working in practices to get better."
When the provincial bantam tournament rolls around during Easter, Field wants to see a quicker team. He said the heart and determination is already there, so skating will be of prominence at future practices.
Team captain Bradley Stoyles, and goaltender Marius Jullien, saw firsthand how much the Flyers improved throughout the tournament, and they were totally confident in saying the team will be even better at future tournaments.
"We played well, and we definitely got better as the weekend went on," said Stoyles. "It's a little frustrating the bounces didn't go our way in the championship game, but we continue to get better, and we're going to continue getting better as the season goes on."
"I thought we played really good," added Jullien. "We were passing the puck well, made quick line changes, and got a lot of shots on net."
Field, and the rest of the team, are extremely positive moving forward. The team, according to Field, has come a long way since the start of the season, and the players continue to gel and come together.
It's the perfect recipe for success, and Field knows he just has to make sure the right ingredients are tossed into the pot.
"They're really coming together as a team, and we're playing good hockey right now. We've certainly come a long ways since when we first got together," said Field. "We're very proud of all the guys on this team, and they all played really well. They got to play in front of their family and friends, and based on the way they played, I'm sure they made their family and friends proud."
With Field behind the bench, Stoyles will continue to do what he can to lead the team on the ice and in the dressing room.
Being named captain wasn't something he expected, but now that the honour has been bestowed upon him, he wants to run with it and do the best job he can.
"It's a great honour," said Stoyles of wearing the captain's C. "I wasn't really expecting it at the start of the year, but it happened, and I'm proud of myself for having it, and I'm proud of the entire team."
Stoyles led the Flyers in scoring in the annual tournament with five points, Zack Ozon followed with four, while Matt Harris and Brian Lawrence collected three points each.
Jullien and Curtis Barrett split time between the pipes.
Gander Co-Op A Results
Express 4 Exploits Cataracts 4
Flyers 4 Cataracts 2
Renegades 6 Express 1
Renegades 4 Flyers 1
Flyers 3 Express 3
Renegades 5 Cataracts 3
Gold-medal game Renegades 6 Flyers 1