Gamebirds dominate pecking order

Roller hockey in the Cayman Islands is currently at its mid-point and the teams have varying report cards.

The mid-term analyses, according to league commissioner Nigel Windsor, reveal a small gap between first and last place in the local inline hockey competition at Kings Sports Centre.

Atop the standings are the 5-2 Burger King Gamebirds. The Gamebirds, behind talents like Colin Wilson, are the only team at the moment giving a full 50-minute commitment and it shows with more than a couple of game-winning goals from top scorer Curtis Appleyard.

Burger King never give up and if anything, become more tenacious the later the game goes on. The other reason for their success shows in their shots for (257) and shots against (255) and goals for (43) and goals against (46). How is this possible for a league-topping team? Simple: with only one blow-out due to no goalie. Their winning margins are slim and they only shoot when the percentages look good and show more puck possession. It is simple but smart and effective hockey.

In second are the 4-3 Mepco High Rollers. The Rollers have it all: solid defencemen, top snipers and the grinding lines to wear other teams down. The result is Mepco, who feature Darryl Hather and Mark Missal, have scored a league-best 54 goals.

One of the few detriments to their play is they are easily riled with quick tempers, often resulting in silly penalties. The other element for continued success is they need to have a committed weekly roster to establish some team depth.

While the 3-3-1 Deloitte Sharks are third, the Sharks are a competent bunch with skilled players always looking to drive the net. Rob Rintoul, Joe Jewitt and company have speed, passing ability and good hockey sense. The Sharks’ problem is often they are limiting themselves by utilizing only one of their many assets in driving to the net. When they do work as a combined package, the results become pretty.

Defensively, the Sharks are sound but they could use some help from their forwards to create passing lanes. If the Sharks tweak a few of their plays, they are real contenders for the championship.

In the cellar are the 2-5 Cayman Hot Sauce Flames, in large part because they need to find a more physical aspect to their game. Ideally they need to acquire two players: a gritty defenceman and a forward who will do damage in the opponent’s crease. At the moment, opposing teams are lining up to unleash shots on goalie Jeremy Olynik without.

Flames forwards don’t have the size or the tenacity to create a disturbance at the other end of the rink either. When they are in the vicinity of the net, other teams are making easy work of moving them out.

Mike Bowden, the Flames’ best playmaker, is looking for passing opportunities but opponents soon realize he is very little threat with everyone else tied up. It’s time for the Flames to change the game plan; otherwise the remaining season will see little success.

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