Mark Robin­son con­cerned about loss of Western fran­chise in pro­vin­cial AAA ban­tam hockey setup

Nor'wester (Springdale) - - CLASSIFIED - BY DAVE KEARSEY

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.”

DAVE KEARSEY/THE WESTERN STAR

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.

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