Mark Robinson concerned about loss of Western franchise in provincial AAA bantam hockey setup
No AAA bantam hockey program on the west coast has Mark Robinson worried about the impact it will have on young players who have a desire to play the game at the elite level when they graduate from the peewee ranks.
A tryout session for players interested in suiting up with the Western Kings in the provincial AAA bantam hockey league had only 18 players show up. The decision was then made to fold the team because those involved felt there weren’t sufficient numbers to forge ahead.
League administrator Gerry Wicks confirmed the folding of the Kings, but had no details on the decision other than he was told there was a poor showing at the tryout camp.
Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association president Jackie Simms said the numbers were low, and Will Smith would probably know more about the situation because he was the guy leading the charge in getting a team back on the ice. The Star was unable to reach Smith as of deadline for some insight into how he arrived at the decision.
Robinson, who is originally from the Baie Verte Peninsula, coached the Kings last season and this winter is the head coach of the Western Kings in the provincial major midget hockey league.
He was hoping the AAA bantam Kings would provide a feeder system for the major midget program, but he believes that’s going to be a tough task when he looks at the fact there is no body checking at all levels of minor hockey with the exception of teams competing in A division, and most of the minor hockey centres in this area don’t compete in the A bracket.
“They are going to come into major midget as rookies who never played a game of hockey with checking, so that’s tough,” he said. “If there’s going to be checking at the midget level when they get there, then they have to get some experience at it somewhere.”
Robinson is familiar with the landscape of minor hockey on the west coast and the Northern Peninsula, so he’s aware of talented players coming up through the ranks capable of playing the game at a high level, but may not get a good opportunity if they’ve never been exposed to taking or receiving a hit.
“We were hoping to have a team that we would be able to watch over the year a couple of times to see how they are doing and keep an eye on players coming up,” he said.
“There’s still some good kids who are going to want to play major midget. They are going to have to find a way to try and get them in some hockey where there’s some checking going on if there’s going to be checking at the midget level.”
Mark Robinson behind the Dennis GM Western Kings bench during a 2017 provincial major midget hockey league game held recently at the Corner Brook Civic Centre. Robinson is worried about what the future holds for the major midget program after Western had to drop out of the AAA bantam provincial setup because there wasn’t enough player interest to ice a team. Western will have representation in the provincial AAA peewee league despite some whispers around the city that the peewee program was also in jeopardy.