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Crosby Andrews has made what is often a difficult transition look relatively easy.
The smooth-skating defenceman is in his first year with the Kensington Monaghan Farms Wild of the New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island Major Midget Hockey League after playing the 2018-19 season with the Charlottetown-based Mount Academy Saints’ bantam team.
“It’s a huge jump from bantam to midget,” said the 15-year-old son of Kevin and Susan Andrews of Hunter River. “It’s a lot faster, a lot bigger guys and it’s hard to adjust.”
Wild head coach Kyle Dunn acknowledged that, like all first-year players, Andrews experienced some growing pains early. The coach was quick to point out that Andrews met those challenges head-on.
“Crosby is starting to come into his own right now,” said Dunn. “We are starting to get him a little more power-play time and he’s starting to build a lot of confidence.
“He has a great hockey IQ and one of his best assets is his feet.
“He’s a great skater, he jumps up into the play a lot now, which we are encouraging, but he also knows his first job is defence. He does a great job of getting out of his zone and competing in his zone.
“He has all the tools to be a great hockey player.”
Andrews said, without question, speed has been the biggest adjustment he’s faced at the major midget level.
“Speed is crucial these days in hockey and you have to have it,” he added.
Both ends of the rink
Crosby is starting to come into his own right now. We are starting to get him a little more power-play time and he’s starting to build a lot of confidence. He has a great hockey IQ and one of his best assets is his feet. He’s a great skater, he jumps up into the play a lot now, which we are encouraging, but he also knows his first job is defence. He does a great job of getting out of his zone and competing in his zone. He has all the tools to be a great hockey player
- Kyle Dunn
Andrews said he likes to contribute at both ends of the rink.
“I like to think of myself as a two-way defender who plays well in the defensive zone and likes to jump up in the rush from time to time.”
Andrews, who has recorded 13 points in 28 regular-season games, said starting the season playing with veteran Seth MacLeod helped him transition into a new league that often presents challenges for first-year players.
“That was nice playing with a big, physical defenceman (MacLeod),” said Andrews. “Three weeks ago my partner changed to Isaac Vos, who is a nice, puck-moving defenceman. It’s been nice playing with both of those guys.”
The Wild is scheduled to host the Moncton Flyers in a New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island Major Midget Hockey League game on Saturday.
Puck drop at Kensington’s Credit Union Centre is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Flyers, who have run away with first place this season, will bring a 30-2-1 (won-lost-overtime losses) record into Kensington. The Wild sits a comfortable second place in the six-team league and entered Friday’s action 19-9-3, 10 points clear of the third-place Fredericton Caps (15-16-1).
The Wild game against the Northern Moose (11-15-4) in Richibucto, N.B., on Friday was postponed due to the weather.
Saturday will mark the seventh and final regular-season meeting between the Wild and Flyers.
Although the Flyers have won five of the first six meetings against the Wild, three of those decisions have been decided by one goal, including a 5-4 Moncton win in Kensington on Jan. 25.
The Flyers and Wild are the top-two scoring teams in the six-team league. Moncton has dented the twine 175 times while Kensington has scored 136 goals.
Moncton is also the league’s best defensive team, allowing just 66 goals in 33 contests. Kensington has given up 110 goals in 31 games.
Brothers Austin (18-26) and Donovan Arsenault (23-21) of Richmond lead the Wild in scoring with 44 points each. Their linemate, Alex Graham (22-21), is one point back.
Austin Arsenault leads the Wild with five power-play goals and Noah Griffin has four.
When told it appears his confidence has grown, Andrews replied that is “100 per cent” accurate.
“You start off and you are a little nervous going in and start adjusting more,” said Andrews. “I am getting used to it and playing a little more physical is definitely helping. It gives you a little more respect on the ice.”
Dunn has noticed a steady progression in Andrews’s game.
“He is just starting to separate himself from most first-year D and that is great to see,” said Dunn. “He’s producing and does the small things on the ice.
“On the power play, he moves the puck well, sees the ice well and for a small guy he has a pretty good shot.”
Andrews entered his first season in Kensington with realistic expectations.
“I expected to do the best I can and trying to improve as much as I can,” he said. “It’s been great.
“We have a great group of guys, great leadership, good coaches and it’s been fun all around.”
The Kensington Wild will host the New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island Major Midget Hockey League Showcase at Credit Union Centre on Feb. 15 and 16.
Each of the six teams will play two games – one on Saturday and one on Sunday – that will count in the league standings.
The event is expected to attract several scouts from different levels.
The host Wild’s games are against the Northern Moose on Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m., and the Fredericton Caps on Feb. 16 at 11 a.m.