Local junior teams ready to play
The CBN Junior Stars and Trinity Conception Junior Flyers are both heading into the second weekend of the St. John’s Junior Hockey League season. With 16 and five years, respectively, under their belts, both squads have championship aspirations and believe they have the players to accomplish that goal.
When the puck dropped at the Goulds Arena on Sept. 26, it marked the 16th season for the CBN Junior Stars.
Despite the lopsided 12-1 defeat to the Avalon Capitals in the start of the St. John’s Junior Hockey League season, it marked a milestone for the Bay Roberts-based club.
It takes a certain type of dedication to be able to be a part of something for close to two decades. For the Junior Stars, consistency helps the team keep going.
“We’ve had basically the same group running the team for the entirety of it,” said manager Brian Hurley. “We’ve been at it a long time.”
Hurley has been a part of the team since the early years.
This familiarity is good for fans expecting a well-run franchise, as well as maintaining a comfortable relationship with the all-important team sponsors.
“We’re there every year and it’s just knowing there is someone there looking after it (is important),” said Hurley.
On the ice, the Junior Stars sit
with one win and one loss in the early stages of the season. They held their home opener last Friday night (results not known prior to deadline) and were expecting to welcome more than 200 fans to the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts for the game.
“We feel we have a competitive team this year and we’re hoping to compete for a championship,” said Hurley.
Just as Hurley says, the Junior Stars have the lineup to compete every night and should in the thick of things come playoff time.
Along with the return of 2014-2015 leading scorers Bradley Budden, Devon Whalen, Michael Mason and Cody Batten, the Stars welcome former Tri Pen Osprey captain Ryan Dawson and fellow former Osprey Reilly Deering to the mix offensively.
They’re supported by the likes of Nick Noseworthy, Brandon Petten, Zach Quinlan, Anthony Nippard, Mitchell Lewis, Michael Critch, Lucas Goobie, Mackenzie Dobbin, Ryan Fillier and Josh Ledrew.
Newcomers like Daniel Moore, Jared Walters and Christian Dawe should also figure into helping the team be successful.
Between the pipes, incumbent Mitchell Dobbin will have the support of Bay Roberts keeper Riley Akerman.
Locals are important
Hockey fans want to see some of their own on the ice when they watch a team. It is important for the bottom line of the team, as well as keeping fans interested in the on-ice product.
“It is extremely important to have those local faces,” said Hurley. “We’re starting to get a bit of local talent, which is good.”
This years edition of the Junior Stars features plenty of familiar faces. There are 15 players who played minor hockey in either the Bay Arena or Cee Bees minor hockey system.
To this end, Hurley is constantly keeping an eye on the local leagues in hopes of attracting more players to the squad. The Junior Stars share an affiliation with the Tri Pen Osprey of the provincial major midget circuit.
The Trinity Placentia Junior Flyers also have an affiliation with the Osprey.
A cheap option
The Junior Stars are a cheap form of entertainment for any hockey-crazed fan in the bay.
At just $5 a ticket, hockey enthusiasts are afforded a bargain for the talent they can see on the ice. That talent includes players from the major midget ranks locally and quite possibly from outside the province should those players decide to venture to Newfoundland for schooling.
“That’s a conscious decision to keep the prices down,” said Hurley. “It’s a place for people to go on a Friday night. We do have the best fans in the league.”
The landscape of junior hockey in this province has changed since the Junior Stars’ first game in the league more than a decade ago. Then, it was seen as more of a scrappers league. Plenty of fans filled the Bay Arena and other league rinks to witness plenty of players dropping the mitts with their opponents.
Now, the league still features its fair share of fisticuffs, but it now boasts a considerable amount of skill.
While the multitudes of scraps aren’t there for the fans, they’re still treated to a good time whenever they come to a game in Bay Roberts. That’s because the Junior Stars are a fun team to watch.
“Everyone likes to see a competitive game of hockey,” said Hurley.
CBN Junior Stars goaltender Mitchell Dobbin is looking to continue his strong play in the St. John’s Junior Hockey League since joining the team two seasons ago.