‘The possibilities are endless’
These “days of hockey,” as Bennett puts it, will happen twice in each of the associations.
The season is scheduled to start Nov. 18 at the Bay Arena, to be followed by a date in Corner Brook in December.
Gander Flyers coach Todd Baldwin called the move a “great step up in the right direction for these kids.”
“We could only get games with three teams last year. So we went from playing 50 all-star games the previous year to 15 last year,” he said. “So, hopefully, with this new league we are able to have more games which will keep us on par with the Tri Com league (St. John’s metro area) to better prepare us for the provincial tournaments in April.”
All in same boat
Imagine having some of the top peewee hockey talent in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Now, imagine not being able to have them play the other top talent regularly.
This is the situation each of the associations found themselves in. Clarenville, Corner Brook and Gander because of geography, and the Bay Arena due to a decision last year to remove the association from the RBC ( formerly-Tri-Con) League in the metro area.
“We are all in the same boat,” said Bennett.
Last season, teams got games through weekend sets. Either Gander would travel to the Bay Arena, or the Bay Arena would travel to the Clarenville Event Centre.
This limited the number of games players had against high-level competition.
“It’s a huge step forward to what we had last year,” Bennett stated. “We’re really excited.”
Bringing people together
Before last winter, Sundays at the Bay Arena were reserved for allstar games in all divisions. There would be no less than five games running consecutively on the ice.
“People met at the rink,” said Bennett. “On Sundays, the Bay Arena was the place to be in Bay Roberts.”
Now, Sundays are reserved for practices. No longer are there buses in the parking lot, people in the stands or lineups at the canteen.
Bennett is hoping this new league will help change that culture.
“We think it’s going to be great for the community,” he said. “Right off the bat, it’s going to bring people back into our rinks. It’s going to fill our restaurants and fill our hotels for that matter.”
There are hopes that the new league could filter down into the divisions above and below peewee.
Given that each division has been missing regular hockey since Bay Arena was evicted from the RBC League, coupled with the recent shutdown of the Tri-Pen Lions major midget team, an osmosis of the new league would mean big things for all players at the Bay Arena.
“The possibilities said Bennett.
Prior to the pieces falling place for the new league, the Bay Arena contingent was preparing to participate in tournaments outside of Newfoundland.
Now, that number has been cut, which means less time travelling during the winter months.
“It’s a huge relief,” said Bennett. “It’s great knowing that we have hockey going forward.”
ROCKETS WIN GOLD — The Holy Redeemer Rockets of Spaniard’s Bay captured the girls’ zone championship in slo-pitch softball on Oct. 19. The tournament took place at the Spaniard’s Bay Recreation Complex with four teams participating, including Amalgamated Academy, Bay Roberts; St. Peter’s School, Upper Island Cove; St. Francis, Harbour Grace; and the host team. The Rockets had a 3-1 record going into the championship, and came out on top by defeating St. Peter’s 12-9. Members of the winning team include: Front (l-r) — Brittany McCabe, Mackenzie Chipman, Cheyenne Ryan, Morgan Sheppard and Alyssa Clarke; back — Bailey Roberts, Jordyn Davis, Terri Gosse, Emily Earle, Kelsey Parsons, Kirstin Hiscock and coach Harrington.