Bay Roberts’ men league starts second season
The Bay Roberts 19-and-over recreational men’s hockey league are set to begin its playoffs.
The second season gets underway Tuesday ( Feb. 12) when Churchill’s (5-16-1) and Molson (220-1) kick off their best-of-3 series with Game 1 at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts.
The series will be a matchup of the fourth and fifth place teams with the winner earning the right to play No. 1 seed Kelly’s Landing in the semifinals for the Jason Harding Memorial Trophy, the league championship.
The first-round showdown is sure to be a barnburner. Up to Feb. 1, the teams had played seven games against each other and Churchill’s has taken the season series with four
wins, two losses and one tie and an average goal differential of 4 between the two teams.
“It should be good, competitive hockey,” said league president Neil Shute.
Along with Kelly’s, Upper Island Cove and Shearstown are in limbo until the series is over, and will play each other in the other semifinal.
Shute said that with new players coming in this year, the season “went great.”
The 2012-13 season saw a number of changes come into the league. Most notably, the league approved the drafting of one provincial senior hockey-caliber player to each team in the league.
With the addition of Keith Delaney (Churchills), Brandon Roach (Molson), Cody Roach (Upper
19-and-over president Neil Shute expects a great playoff run for the league.
Island Cove), Stephen Greeley (Shearstown) and Matthew French ( Kelly’s), each stronger teams remained strong, but the weaker clubs started to flourish.
“It helped out some of the teams and the overal l lev e l of p l ay increased,” said Shute.
The president said that since the Christmas break the hockey has been a better brand than before the break.
Another change thrown at players was the addition of a two-official system in the regular season. The playoffs have long been done with a two-man system.
This has forced players to clean up a bit of the stick work that some thought plagued the league by having a second set of eyes watching the play.
With both changes, Shute said he has not received any complaints about the play. Three-peat? The Upper Island Cove Hawks entered the regular season as the two-time defending league champions.
When the team kicks off its second round matchup with Shearstown, the team will be on a quest to be the first three-time winners in league history.
The Hawks will be in tough as the top-ranked Kelly’s Landing team features French, Brent Roach and four of the top-five scorers in the league, including league leader Robert Mercer.
Kelly’s have also had the Hawks number this season. As of Feb. 5, the Green Machine holds a 5-1 record in six games.
But, as they say, the start of the playoffs signals the start of a new season where anything can happen.
Still, Shute recognizes that it will be no easy task to win the third title.
“It’s going to be hard to do,” he said.