CeeBees can’t find a game

De­fend­ing Herder champs with­out a league af­ter Hockey NL rules new-look Avalon East cir­cuit wouldn’t be granted se­nior A sta­tus

The Compass - - Sports - BY ROBIN SHORT rshort@thetele­gram.com

Har­bour Grace Ocean En­ter­prises CeeBee Stars pres­i­dent Mark Reynolds is de­ter­mined to have his club de­fend its Herder Me­mo­rial Tro­phy cham­pi­onship in the spring, which might be kind of dif­fi­cult con­sid­er­ing it’s now of­fi­cial the CeeBees won’t be play­ing hockey any­where this sea­son.

“As far as I’m con­cerned,” Reynolds said Sun­day, “any­body who wants to play for the Herder next year should have to play us in Har­bour Grace.”

Reynolds is hold­ing on to that con­vic­tion de­spite re­ceiv­ing news Satur­day from Hockey New­found­land and Labrador that the Avalon East Se­nior Hockey League’s ap­peal to be granted se­nior A sta­tus was de­nied.

The CeeBees, if you re­call, were ousted from the Avalon East league dur­ing the sum­mer. And it comes down to this: the other four teams in the league - North­east, South­ern Shore, St. John’s and Con­cep­tion Bay/Bell Is­land - were con­vinced Har­bour Grace, which steam­rolled through the league last sea­son at 18-2-1, were pay­ing play­ers, which is against league by­laws.

The ma­jor­ity of the Avalon East ex­ec­u­tive re­signed, and the four re­main­ing teams formed a new cir­cuit, the East Coast Se­nior Hockey League.

That ef­fec­tively left the CeeBees as the only team in the Avalon East loop, but Har­bour Grace found po­ten­tial new part­ners in Mount Pearl and Par­adise.

How­ever, with HNL rul­ing the new-look AESHL a se­nior B op­er­a­tion, and thus un­able to com­pete for the Herder, Mount Pearl and Par­adise are not in­ter­ested in com­pet­ing.

“We would have played,” Reynolds said, “and we would have made pro­vi­sions to en­sure there was par­ity in the league. We knew we would have lost some play­ers, but we were pre­pared to do what­ever it took.”

Reynolds said his or­ga­ni­za­tion was ini­tially in­formed the “new” Avalon East league would be con­sid­ered se­nior B ear­lier in the month. The league ap­pealed the de­ci­sion and asked for a rul­ing sooner rather than later.

“The whole process was drawn out over the course of a cou­ple of weeks, yet the East Coast league got their ‘A’ sta­tus over a cup of cof­fee in Gan­der,” he claimed.

“They (HNL) de­layed it so long that other leagues held their drafts to se­lect play­ers. They ba­si­cally screwed us.

“This all could have been avoided from the out­set if HNL had said the ob­vi­ous, that this whole thing is ridicu­lous, that peo­ple need to sit down and sort things out. HNL could have sent in a me­di­a­tor, which is what I asked for a hun­dred times.”

Reynolds is con­vinced HNL had hoped the CeeBees would join the three-team Cen­tralWest Se­nior Hockey League, but he said his play­ers weren’t in­ter­ested trav­el­ling to Clarenville, Gan­der or Grand Fall­sWind­sor ev­ery other week­end.

“And I know the four teams in the East Coast se­nior league,” charged Reynolds, weren’t in­ter­ested in an in­ter­lock­ing sched­ule with the Cen­tral West league, but they agreed to it so as to en­sure they would be granted se­nior A sta­tus. “The whole thing’s a joke.” Each team in the East Coast league will make one trip to each of the three Cen­tral West towns this win­ter for in­ter­lock­ing play.

Reynolds isn’t sure what hap­pens next. He’s hope­ful of an Avalon East league for the 2018-19 sea­son, one which would in­clude Mount Pearl and Par­adise. As for the play­ers who skated with the CeeBees last year, Reynolds said he won’t deny any player his re­lease.

“We wouldn’t stop any­one who wants a game of hockey,” he said.

The CeeBees were the only team in the Avalon East league - circa 2016-17 - to draw large crowds to their home games, and Har­bour Grace did well in the Herder play­offs.

And just re­cently, the hockey team staged a “Chase the Ace” draw, which did very well.

“We have a bunch of char­i­ties that will ben­e­fit from us,” he said. “And we’ll hold some money for the next 12 months in prepa­ra­tion for next year.

“This is so dis­ap­point­ing for the com­mu­nity and the hockey fans out here. You would think cooler heads would have pre­vailed. I’ve never seen any­thing like this in my life.”

The CeeBees won the Avalon East cham­pi­onship last sea­son be­fore go­ing on to dis­patch the Clarenville Cari­bous in a best-of-five se­ries that went the limit.

That fi­nal game, a 4-3 CeeBees’ vic­tory, will be for­ever re­mem­bered for the win­ning goal, which came when the puck slid un­der the side of the net.

HNL se­nior chair­man Gary Gale was un­avail­able for com­ment Sun­day night, Oct. 29.

TELE­GRAM FILE PHOTO

News was con­firmed late last month the CeeBee Stars will not be play­ing hockey for the 2018-19 sea­son. The de­fend­ing Herder Me­mo­rial cham­pi­ons fate was sealed when Hockey NL de­nied the Avalon East Se­nior Hockey League’s re­quest for se­nior A sta­tus.

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