Play­off time

Bay Roberts’ men league starts sec­ond sea­son

The Compass - - PORTHTE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

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

Great year

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.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Com­pass file photo

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