No hockey for CeeBees again

Team pres­i­dent says Stars will con­tinue to fight for spot in se­nior hockey

The Compass - - Front page - BY CHRIS LEWIS [email protected]­n­com­pass.ca

For a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son and the third time within the last five, the CeeBee Stars will not be in­volved in pro­vin­cial se­nior hockey ac­tion. Club pres­i­dent Mark Reynolds re­cently spoke with The Com­pass to of­fer his re­ac­tion to the news.

The 2018-19 sea­son for se­nior hockey may prove to be a dis­ap­point­ing one for CeeBees fans.

When Hockey NL an­nounced its plans for the sea­son Oct. 2, in­clud­ing a new for­mat for the Herder Memo­rial Cup, the CeeBees were not on the list of teams in­cluded in the new East Coast Se­nior Hockey League (ECSHL).

The team has a com­pli­cated his­tory with se­nior hockey in the prov­ince.

The last sea­son they played, 2016-17, they were cham­pi­ons in the Avalon East League Se­nior Hockey League (AESHL) and went on to de­feat Clarenville for the Herder Memo­rial Tro­phy.

That vic­tory was tainted, how­ever, by a ques­tion­able key goal in the fi­nal game in that series. Video re­vealed the puck had slipped un­der the side of the net.

There were also com­plaints that sea­son from other teams in the AESHL that the CeeBee Stars had been us­ing paid play­ers.

The CeeBees have ex­plored nu­mer­ous op­tions to get back on the ice, with­out suc­cess.

Mark Reynolds, pres­i­dent of the CeeBee Stars, told The Com­pass last week fol­low­ing the Hockey NL an­nounce­ment, “We’ve been work­ing dili­gently, ba­si­cally since last year. We’ve had on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tions with many peo­ple around the se­nior hockey cir­cuit, we’ve kept in touch with all the teams that were still in­ter­ested in get­ting some­thing go­ing, and we started off with some pretty great meet­ings be­tween us and Mount Pearl and Clarenville.”

He said when the team joined the AESHL three years ago, they were happy — lo­cal play­ers had a chance to play the game. It also meant less long-dis­tance travel for the team. When they were in the Cen­tral West Se­nior Hockey League, road games meant week­ends (and ho­tels and travel costs) in Grand Fall­sWind­sor or Clarenville.

Ear­lier this year, the CeeBees were given the op­por­tu­nity to play eight games against ECSHL teams, as long as they also played in the CWSHL this sea­son.

“We said, you know what? We can do that for a year or two based on our fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion, so we’ll do it,” said Reynolds.

Fol­low­ing meet­ings held in Gan­der later in the year, where

this new ar­range­ment was dis­cussed, the ECSHL later agreed to play only four games. This, along­side the team’s pre-estab­lished hes­i­tance to join this league, ul­ti­mately led to the Stars’ de­ci­sion to pull from the CWSHL.

“That was a dif­fer­ent tune,” said Reynolds. “That meant an ex­tra trip to cen­tral west, plus three or four trips for play­offs – you’re ba­si­cally spend­ing your win­ter in cen­tral New­found­land, and we don’t have the play­ers that have the ap­petite to do that, or want to do that.”

De­spite this, Reynolds says the team did not fal­ter in its at­tempts to get some hockey back to Har­bour Grace this sea­son, work­ing up to the eleventh

hour, with emails still go­ing out only days prior to the ma­jor an­nounce­ment.

How­ever, Reynolds feels there’s a deeper rea­son for the team’s shut out from the new league setup.

“Af­ter we pulled out of the cen­tral west league – which wasn’t ma­li­cious, or to hurt any­body – they ba­si­cally turned their nose up at us, and for some rea­son, in my opin­ion,

they’re sim­ply over­look­ing what the CeeBees have brought to the ta­ble for se­nior hockey, and for the com­mu­nity, and mi­nor hockey,” he said.

“The CeeBees be­long in the se­nior hockey cir­cuit in some way, shape, or form, and in the end, we didn’t even get a call. We weren’t given the op­por­tu­nity to play in this new league that they put to­gether. We’re very dis­ap­pointed and up­set, and we’re look­ing for an­swers.”

Reynolds added he’s heard there are teams within the ECSHL that want to see the CeeBee Stars on the ice this sea­son, and that ex­ec­u­tives within the league share this opin­ion.

The trou­ble the Stars face, he al­leges, lies with Hockey NL.

“They sim­ply don’t want the CeeBees around. We had an in­de­pen­dent ex­ec­u­tive op­er­at­ing the league, we had five teams, our league had just won the Herder, we had an op­por­tu­nity to take in an­other team or two the fol­low­ing year, and they stripped all of that down, brought (the league) back to four teams, killed the in­ter­est in it, and they’ve re­ally brought (se­nior hockey) back­wards by 10 years in my opin­ion.”

Reynolds says this is still not the end of the CeeBees, say­ing the Stars will not give up.

“We think that we will pre­vail over time. Un­for­tu­nately, that could mean we don’t have a team on the ice this year. But we’re needed, and we be­long in the se­nior hockey cir­cuit on the Avalon,” he said. “We’re gonna keep fighting un­til we get there.”

The Com­pass reached out to Hockey NL for com­ment on the sit­u­a­tion, but did not re­ceive a re­sponse prior to dead­line.

FILE PHOTO

The Har­bour Grace Ocean En­ter­prises CeeBee Stars claimed a Herder Cham­pi­onship vic­tory dur­ing the 2016-17 sea­son, which was also the last sea­son the team saw some time on the ice.

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