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NICHOLAS MERCER: Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor looking for third senior hockey team

The opening games of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League’s central division finals between the Gander Flyers and Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts will take place from March 2-3 in Gander.
The opening games of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League’s central division finals between the Gander Flyers and Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts will take place from March 2-3 in Gander. - SaltWire File Photo

Senior hockey isn’t dead in central Newfoundland just yet. 

 

It might be on life support but organizers of the Gander Flyers and Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts aren’t ready to pull the plug. 

An Oct. 31 Facebook page statement, from Gander Flyers’ general manager Geoff Goldsworthy, assured fans representatives from both teams were working daily to secure a third team as required by Hockey NL before they hit the ice. 

“There are many components to making this happen and we appreciate everyone's patience so far and apologize on behalf of the organization as to the limited details that can be provided at this time,” the post reads. 

A similar post earlier this month on the Cataracts Facebook page says the same thing. Both Central West Senior Hockey League teams remain in active talks to ensure there is play this season, although both have indicated no interest in playing each other in a two-team setup.

You don’t have to look very far to figure out where they hope to find the third team. 

You can be fairly certain it won’t come from the West Coast Senior Hockey League, as Port aux Basques, Corner Brook and Deer Lake have signalled intent to ice teams and tryouts have started.

Stephenville has no interest in senior hockey at this juncture, so it's out. 

The Flyers and Cataracts have no choice but to look east.

There is some question about the status of the East Coast Hockey League and its teams.

As we all know, the east coast league was met with a Hockey NL ultimatum to take in the CeeBees or face not being sanctioned for play this year. 

The east league's appeal to Hockey Canada was squashed earlier this week, and there's no indication when or if the league will start.

So where does the central league fit? 

Is there a way for them to pick at the carcass of the east league and cobble together an opponent? 

You can pretty much cross out any team inside the overpass. They didn’t want to play interlocking league games last year and probably lack the appetite to make it permanent. 

It eliminates all but two teams, the CeeBees and the Clarenville Caribous. 

Those options are also limited as Caribous brass told the Saltwire Network earlier this week they had no interest in joining the Flyers or Cataracts. 

Leaving the CeeBees as a senior hockey centre able to jump into the central league.

It would be a shame to see the central teams come to an end because they couldn’t find someone to play. 

Both run themselves like pro clubs and should be credited for having the will to keep senior hockey alive in their area, especially last year. 

Fans will come out. They crave it and they’ve been treated to years of good hockey leading up to this point. 

As long as the league remains hooked up to life support, there is hope.

It's all the fans want. 

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