A hockey hotbed
Bay Roberts men’s league attracting some of the best talent in the region
There are not many fans in the stands to watch the 19-and-over Bay Roberts Recreation Hockey League at the Bay Arena, but that’s no reflection of the quality of the hockey on the ice.
“We have a pretty loyal fan base who come out every night,” says first- time league president Neil Shute.
Tonight, Kelly’s Landing is playing Keltic Molson in the first game of two Tuesday night games.
The game moves at a high pace, highlighting the deft passing and slick skating of the two teams.
At certain points in the game, Kelly’s control the play, keeping the puck in Keltic’s end.
Jumping out to a 4-1 lead half- way through the game, it does not appear that Keltic will be able to shrink the deficit, but that isn’t the case.
By the end, Keltic has scored four unanswered goals in the final half of the game and hold on to win 5-4.
For a recreational league, a firsttime observer is pleasantly surprised by the speed and calibre of the action.
On any night, there is the possibility of watching former major junior players, former Atlantic University Sport players and former senior league players.
Some of the more prominent names include the likes of Brent Roach, Matthew French, Ian Moores, Randy Reardon, Paul Brown, Chris Petten, John Drover, Andrew Drover, Peter George, Tommy Snow, Phillip Norman and Chris Crosbie.
On top of that, some of the best local talent can be found in the league.
“There are a lot of good players up here now,” said Upper Island Cove representative Shawn Drover.
Sometimes, the top talent starts leaning one way and populating a couple of teams, but that is not the case in this league.
“What you have now is every team has players who have played some level of hockey and is making the league more even,” said Shute.
Shute would not go as far to admit the league is the best game of hockey in Conception Bay, outside of senior hockey.
“It is not fair to compare it to senior hockey,” he said.
Drover said the league “seems like the place where most of the former senior players come to play.”
One thing is certain, however, players that do not give a full effort is quickly left behind.
“You have to come up and give 100 per cent every shift or you
won’t keep up,” said Drover.
From the ashes
The 19- and- over league has been around in its current incarnation for 15 years.
The puck dropped on the league in fall of 1996.
Rising from the ashes of the old Conception Bay North Senior B League, this new league offered an alternative for players who had grown tired of dealing with the physical toll of full contact hockey.
While most rec leagues do not allow slap shots, players in the 19and-over league are free to blast away.
Keltic Molson player Robert Bartlett slides towards Kelly’s Landing goaltender Trevor Dixon on his back. Philip Norman looks on as Dixon covers the puck.