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Decade-old Central Newfoundland Senior Intermediate Hockey League thriving

The Lewisporte Seahawks claimed their second Central Newfoundland Senior Intermediate Hockey League championship on March 16. Front, from left, Hunter Downton, Kyle Corkery, Luc Mcloughlin, Andrew Martin, Andrew Ryan, Marcus Freake, Greg Eveleigh, Matt Kinden, Andrew Manuel, Matt Kelly and Graham Coish. Back, Phyllis Freake, Kurtis Mullett, Todd Learning, Barry Wheeler, Cody Pardy, Jody Curlew, Dean Bowering, Karter Mullett, Magnus Oake, Cliff Mugford, Steve Best, Richard Blagdon, Bobby Ryan and Kyle Fifield.
The Lewisporte Seahawks claimed their second Central Newfoundland Senior Intermediate Hockey League championship on March 16. Front, from left, Hunter Downton, Kyle Corkery, Luc Mcloughlin, Andrew Martin, Andrew Ryan, Marcus Freake, Greg Eveleigh, Matt Kinden, Andrew Manuel, Matt Kelly and Graham Coish. Back, Phyllis Freake, Kurtis Mullett, Todd Learning, Barry Wheeler, Cody Pardy, Jody Curlew, Dean Bowering, Karter Mullett, Magnus Oake, Cliff Mugford, Steve Best, Richard Blagdon, Bobby Ryan and Kyle Fifield. - Contributed

On their own terms

LEWISPORTE, N.L. —

The Central Newfoundland Senior Intermediate Hockey League (CNHL) has been around a decade, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some new experiences every now and then.

During the most recent playoffs, fans had to be turned away at Lewisporte Stadium during the semifinals between the Seahawks and Twillingate Combines.

“(It was the) first time we’ve ever had anybody look at fire regulations,” Greg Eveleigh told The Central Voice in a recent interview.

Eveleigh, the long-time captain of the Seahawks, has been involved in the CNHL since the beginning and has watched it grow and evolve.

The league started out in 2009 with three teams – Lewisporte, Twillingate and Gander. Now there are six, with Gander gone and the Springdale Braves, the Grand Falls-Windsor Blades, the Northeast Wildcats in Triton and the Straight Shore Beothics in Wesleyville rounding out the circuit.

Reaching the decade mark is a good accomplishment, Eveleigh said.

“The interest level has gone down in a lot of areas, in a lot of leagues, and ours has grown,” he pointed out.

Eveleigh says the league is run modestly. There’s no president. Instead, each team has a seat at the table and one vote on decisions affecting the league. If they need a ruling, an impartial arbiter has been designated.

Unlike other leagues with bigger budgets, there’s no compensation for players in the CNHL.

“For the most part, it’s home-based guys,” Eveleigh said.

There’s also no body contact.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t still rough and tumble sometimes with the odd fight, though. Eveleigh doesn’t believe that’s why the league has been successful, however.

“I just think simplicity,” he explained.

“We’ve got 15-minute periods versus 20-minute periods. There’s nights where we only need to dress 15 (players) versus the senior (leagues) dressing a little more, and there’s times when we can get away with 10 or 12 players and they can put up a good fight for a game, and probably can steal a game each weekend.”

Eveleigh thinks allowing players to come in and out of the lineup, a schedule that allows them to juggle work and family responsibilities as well as removing some of the fear of getting hurt is what makes the league run smoothly.

The CNHL has attracted the attention of senior leagues in the province who came calling in the past year, Eveleigh says, noting those overtures were brushed aside.

“We didn’t want to complicate things, I guess. We’re happy with the way things are going,” he said.

editor@thecentralvoice.ca


‘It meant a little more’

When the Lewisporte Seahawks won the Central Newfoundland Senior Intermediate Hockey League title over the Straight Shore Beothics on March 16, they hoisted a trophy named after a man close to their hearts. 

Phyllis Freake and her son, Marcus Freake, hold the Lloyd Freake Memorial Trophy, name after Phyllis’ husband and Marcus’ father. Lloyd Freake died suddenly in January. He was coach of the Lewisporte Seahawks at the time. A decision was made during the playoffs to name the Central Newfoundland Senior Intermediate Hockey League championship trophy in his honour. - Contributed
Phyllis Freake and her son, Marcus Freake, hold the Lloyd Freake Memorial Trophy, name after Phyllis’ husband and Marcus’ father. Lloyd Freake died suddenly in January. He was coach of the Lewisporte Seahawks at the time. A decision was made during the playoffs to name the Central Newfoundland Senior Intermediate Hockey League championship trophy in his honour. - Contributed

Their coach, Lloyd Freake, who had been brought on board at the start of the 2018-19 season, died suddenly on Jan. 8 at the age of 54.

Seahawks captain Greg Eveleigh acknowledged Freake was well known in central hockey circles – as a player and a minor hockey coach.

“It wasn’t (just) a shock to our team, it was a shock to the community,” Eveleigh said.

During the playoffs, a decision was made to name the league’s championship prize – the Lloyd Freake Memorial Trophy – in honour of him.

The Seahawks’ players weren’t overly open about it publicly, but among themselves they had decided to dedicate the year to Freake, whose son Marcus is a member of the team, Eveleigh told The Central Voice.

That made it pretty special when they won it all, he said.

“In the dressing room, you know, we’re all there for the same purpose, but it meant a little more, I guess, given the circumstances,” Eveleigh said.

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