Colemans Western Kings’ Nathan Ellsworth and his teammates are heading to Clarenville for a two-game road trip Saturday and Sunday against Tri-Pen.
— Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
ROCKY HARBOUR Nathan Ellsworth has moved up the depth chart so he knows his teammates will expect him to be play a bigger role.
That’s just fine with the third-year centre with the Colemans Western Kings of the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League.
The defending champion Kings will try to repeat last year’s success without the services of graduated scoring stars David Budgell, Neil Woolfrey and Ian Skinner leading the charge on the scoreboard.
The departure of key offensive stars means somebody has to pick up the slack.
“My role changed from a more defensive player to an offensive one because I stepped up one line so I have to score some goals because we relied on them a lot last year,” Ellsworth, son of Lloyd and Karen, said Thursday while on lunch break from Gros Morne Academy in Rocky Harbour.
The Kings opened the season at home eight days ago, but it didn’t go the way the champs envisioned as the Central IcePak eked out a 6-5 overtime win in the season opener for both clubs before the central squad roared back Sunday morning to take the series with a 7-4 victory at the Kinsmen Arena II.
Ellsworth picked up an assist in the opener and scored a goal in Sunday’s contest playing pivot on the team’s second unit with returnees Brady Griffin-Hefford of Corner Brook and Tommy Ryan of Massey Drive.
The slick-skating centre believes the Kings will have to get back to playing basic hockey if they want to get on the winning track with a two-game road trip to Clarenville for games Saturday and Sunday against the Tri-Pen franchise, which is back in the fold after a one-year hiatus.
“Just get the puck out and put it deep,” he said. “We need to get it going in their end and not so much in our end.”
Poor defensive zone coverage and too many turnovers in their own end spelled disaster for the Kings on opening weekend, according to Ellsworth. He believes defence is the key to winning hockey games so he is hoping the Kings can come up with a better effort without the puck or it will be a tough weekend.
“Our forwards have to give our defence more support and we need to have a better breakout,” he said.
Ellsworth is only 17, but in major midget hockey circles he’s considered a seasoned veteran. There was a time when he was the new kid on the block trying to find his way on the team and he knows what challenges come with that so he can be a leader for some of the fresh faces in the mix.
Playing at home in their first game may have been a tad nervous for some of the young guns so maybe it won’t be so bad playing on the road with a few games under their belts.
Ellsworth wasn’t about to make excuses or take credit away from the IcePak.
He will be in the ear of some of the new guys this weekend with hopes they feel a bit more comfortable.
“I say just work your butt off, watch the older guys and listen to the coaches because that’s what I have done is listen to coach Angus (Head) a lot and I learned a lot,” he said.