Call­ing all fans

The Compass - - SPORTS - Nick

The New­found­land Se­nior Hockey League is big busi­ness. In or­der to com­pete, teams need to have sta­ble cash flow. It doesn’t have to be a large cash flow, but it helps.

Some of that comes from cor­po­rate spon­sors and fundrais­ing ef­forts, but for the most part, a strong fan base plays a huge role.

The fans are what drive ticket sales, en­tic­ing spon­sors to come on board. The more fans who see their logo, the bet­ter they stand to gain from the part­ner­ship.

Ticket sales mean more peo­ple in the rink, and a greater 50/50 prize and a greater cut for the team. A large com­mu­nity sup­port sys­tem also aids teams when it comes to fundrais­ing ef­forts in the town.

That’s why cen­tres like Grand Falls-Wind­sor, Clarenville and Gan­der have no trou­ble pay­ing some of the best tal­ent to play for their clubs.

That’s why the Cataracts could pay d-man Luke Gal­lant a ru­moured $1,200 ev­ery weekend.

With­out all of th­ese things, ex­clud­ing the big time con­tract of course, it be­comes harder and harder for teams to sur­vive.

That’s why it be­comes that much more im­por­tant that the fans of the Eastlink CeeBee Stars get out to the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace and sup­port your team.

It is widely known that the CeeBee faith­ful have one of the more de­voted and strong­est fan bases in the his­tory of se­nior hockey in this prov­ince.

There are sto­ries of trav­el­ling car­a­vans travers­ing the high­ways of yore with the in­tent of watch­ing the CeeBees com­pete in far away lands like Gan­der and Cor­ner Brook.

The play­offs last sea­son were a prime ex­am­ple of that. Sit­ting in Grand Falls-Wind­sor and Clarenville, there were pock­ets of CeeBees fans ev­ery­where.

Dur­ing Games 1 and 2 of the Herder fi­nal, CeeBees na­tion took over the Clarenville Event Cen­tre.

Just speak­ing from an ob­ser­va­tional stand­point, hav­ing that fan sup­port in a vis­i­tor’s rink does won­ders for a player’s con­fi­dence.

It was some­thing to see the team play­ing and act­ing like it was a home game.

Even at home, the CeeBees drew num­bers of fans I haven’t seen at the sta­dium in my two years of cov­er­ing the league.

It was amaz­ing to see a jammed house for the Herder fi­nal.

But, where were a lot of those fans when the team was on the ropes?

Sure, the base came around in the end, but the CeeBees need them from the start.

Fans need to get be­hind this team, which, in my opin­ion, will be an en­ter­tain­ing team to watch.

Sure, the team lost the De­laneys, Thomey and the ser­vices of Robert Slaney, but there are ta­lented play­ers suit­ing up this sea­son.

The CeeBees re­cently picked up Brad Yet­man and Cody Roach. Ev­ery­one knows what Roach brings to the ta­ble and he will help this team.

And, Yet­man played four years in the QMJHL. That doesn’t hap­pen by ac­ci­dent.

The al­ways de­pend­able Mike Dyke is still man­ning the blue­line for the ‘Bees and Jor­dan Es­cott is primed for a big-time sopho­more sea­son in Har­bour Grace.

All is not as blue as some would lead you to be­lieve.

Fans are at­tracted to stars. It’s not a se­cret.

It’s why the whole world fo­cused on Wayne Gret­zky 25 years ago, but the Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers still had Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and Glenn An­der­son.

All of the three for­mer CeeBees listed above were stars in the NLSHL, how­ever, the team is not lost for tal­ent.

This team is go­ing to be hard work­ing and ta­lented. This team is go­ing to have an en­ter­tain­ing prod­uct on the ice. This team will win games. So, get out and sup­port them. They need it.

— Ni­cholas Mercer is a reporter/pho­tog­ra­pher with the Com­pass. He writes from Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca.

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