Keys for Royals Success

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Updated: November 13, 2014

The Corner Brook Royals have come into the 2014-2015 Central West Newfoundland Senior Hockey League with high expectations.  Ross Coates has indicated the team will not settle for anything less than a Herder Memorial Championship and has set out to build a team with a much different look than in previous years.

The first four games have seen the Royals split both series, heading into Clarenville and winning the first game of the season, spoiling the Caribous home opener.  The Royals then gave a great performance in their own home opener and walked away with a shoot-out win to have their record sit at 2-2 in the young season.

The Corner Brook Royals are a real threat this season and they have built a team that compares to any other team in the league.  It has depth and heart throughout the line-up with a great mix of young players and experience.  This is one of the best Royals teams that have taken to the ice in recent years.  Their play in the first four games shows they have yet to gel but it also shows they are well matched with the Caribous who are arguably one of the best teams in Newfoundland senior hockey history.

What do the Royals need to focus on to improve this season?

In looking at the early season statistics, the Royals are giving up way too many quality shots.  Teams are able to cycle the puck low for great in-close scoring chances and during the power play opponents are driving point shots towards Gillis with lots of traffic in front.  The Royals defense must step up and force their opponents towards the outside and force them to take long point shots.  They Royals defenders must also be willing to put their body in the shooting lane and block more shots.  They must also be willing to clear the lane when needed and give their goalkeeper an opportunity to see those long point shots.

Another area needing improvement is the power play.  Coach Darren Langdon has developed a plan on for his team on the power play.  It is obvious watching and listening to the games that they are relying on the big shot from the blue line.  However, opponents have become aware of this one-dimensional aspect of the Royals power play and have adapted.  Not only do they block shots, they force the point shooters constantly making them take low-percentage shots without traffic in front of the net.  For the Royals to be successful they must force the puck low in the zone, draw the defenders and cycle the puck to the top of the circle for a quality shot.  The Royals must also put traffic in front of the net and this is where a veteran player like Mark Robinson can play a major role.  Robinson is a proven goal scorer and has the experience and size to make him effective in this role.

Another key for success is goal production.  As the early statistics show, Michael Hynes is leading the team with 3 goals.  Bragg and Nicholas have 2 goals each.  Import Phil Mangan is leading the way with 4 assists.  Chris Hulit has to start putting goals in the net to go along with his 3 assists that he currently has.  Hulit, Hynes, Bragg and Nicholas will need to produce the bulk of the Royals offense and Langdon must somehow light a spark under these players to get them producing.  We realize that it is early in the season but these individuals have to produce for the Royals to succeed.

With the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts heading into the Corner Brook Civic Center this weekend, the Royals will be tested again and will face one of the most potent offenses in the league.  It will be interesting to see if the Royals can make the adjustments needed and tweak their lineup.  There is no denying that this is a different look team and their performance in the first two weekends shows they are a real threat.  Fans in Corner Brook will be treated to great hockey this season.

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