A hockey hot­bed

Bay Roberts men’s league at­tract­ing some of the best tal­ent in the re­gion

The Compass - - ORTHTE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.

Well-known names

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.

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/the Com­pass

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.

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