Join­ing forces

Bay Arena mi­nor, Cee­bees mi­nor merg­ing midget house leagues

The Compass - - ORTHTE - BYNICHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

The Bay Arena and Cee­Bees mi­nor hockey as­so­ci­a­tion have reached an agree­ment to form a midget house league com­prised of play­ers from both as­so­ci­a­tions.

The agree­ment comes af­ter the two as­so­ci­a­tions spent the sum­mer reach­ing an un­der­stand­ing.

The two par­ties were forced to take a look at their old­est house league di­vi­sions af­ter Hockey NL made the de­ci­sion to not al­low play­ers in both ban­tam and midget to share a house league.

“We would’ve been down to two teams in midget,” said Bay Arena mi­nor pres­i­dent Brian Drover.

Cee­Bees mi­nor pres­i­dent Wendy Pen­ney shared sim­i­lar sen­ti­ment.

“Tra­di­tion­ally, the midget division has had lower num­bers,” she said. “They don’t want to play against each other con­stantly, they’ll get sick of that.”

The new house league will be made up of four teams, com­prised of play­ers from each as­so­ci­a­tion.

It will not be a house league team from the Bay Arena ver­sus a house league team from Har­bour Grace. Each player will be thrown into a pool and se­lected to a team by coaches with A , B and C play­ers be­ing dis­trib­uted evenly among the four teams.

“A team could be half-and-half from ei­ther as­so­ci­a­tion or three-quar­ters Cee­Bees and the rest Bay Arena,” said Pen­ney.

Start­ing Oct. 25, there will be 40 games played, evenly di­vided be­tween the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts and the S.W. Moores Memo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace.

The two as­so­ci­a­tions have struck up a com­mit­tee made up of three ex­ec­u­tives — pres­i­dent, vice pres­i­dent and house league di­rec­tor from each as­so­ci­a­tion — to han­dle dis­ci­plinary ac­tions should they arise.

The league is a re­vival of a sim­i­lar move made in 2007, when both as­so­ci­a­tions op­er­ated a house league. That time the work­ing re­la­tion­ship ex­tended through all di­vi­sions, atom to midget.

Prior to that the midget di­vi­sions were com­bined in the both the 1999-00 and 2000-01 sea­sons for house league and all-star. In 2001, a com­bined midget all-star team un­der the Bay Arena ban­ner cap­tured the midget A ti­tle, which was a first for both as­so­ci­a­tions at the time.

Pen­ney, who’s two sons played house league at the Bay Arena, was on the Cee­Bees board at the time of the merger in 2007.

At the time, there was no clear-cut rea­son as to why it was stopped af­ter just one sea­son.

“Boards change, ideas drop and for some rea­son the house league dwin­dled away. So, we’re go­ing to start it up again,” said Pen­ney.

Both as­so­ci­a­tions are look­ing at the new league as a pi­lot project for fu­ture en­deav­ours. If this year is deemed to be a suc­cess, the pro­gram could ex­pand to the lower di­vi­sions.

Drover has hopes the project could turn into some­thing even greater than just a league be­tween the two as­so­ci­a­tions.

“Once we get some of the bugs straight­ened out, it could lead to other as­so­ci­a­tions join­ing,” he said. “I’m 100 per cent con­fi­dent it can work.”

It might not hap­pen this year, or even five years down the road, but the merger could spark talk of one mi­nor hockey as­so­ci­a­tion in Con­cep­tion Bay North.

Nei­ther pres­i­dent would call it a cer­tainty, but it may be in the realm of pos­si­bil­ity later down the road.

When both pres­i­dents brought the mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing back to their re­spec­tive boards, it was met with unan­i­mous ap­proval.

“One of the com­ments at the ta­ble, was that when midgets prac­tice, they skate for five min­utes and then they want to have a game,” said Pen­ney. “We’re go­ing to give them that game.”

One ma­jor con­cern for the merger is the amount of travel play­ers from both as­so­ci­a­tions, es­pe­cially in Har­bour Grace where the bound­aries in­clude play­ers from as far away from as Heart’s Co­nent.

“It’s a chal­lenge for the Cee­Bees, but we’re hop­ing the par­ents will sup­port it … and give it a fair try,” she said. “I’m con­fi­dent it will work.” Drover said the move is a wel­comed one for hockey in CBN. “I think it’s pos­i­tive for mi­nor hockey and for the bay,” he said

Bay Arena mi­nor pres­i­dent Brian Drover. Cee­Bees mi­nor pres­i­dent Wendy Pen­ney.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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