Lo­cal ju­nior teams ready to play

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.

The lineup

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.

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

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.

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