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Western Warriors AAA bantam coach Robert Major hoping to salvage game of hockey for his girls

A member of the Western Warriors AAA bantam female team competes during provincial action at the Corner Brook Civic Centre during the 2017-2018 season.
A member of the Western Warriors AAA bantam female team competes during provincial action at the Corner Brook Civic Centre during the 2017-2018 season. - Star file photo

Robert Major has coached a group of female hockey players from western for the past three years and has enjoyed watching them have fun and compete with the best the province has to offer in the AAA female bantam hockey league.

He has hopes there will be a fourth season.

The Deer Lake coach is trying to build a roster for the 2018-2019 AAA female bantam hockey league, but all he can come up with is 10 committed players.

That’s all that showed up at the Western Warriors AAA female bantam hockey league tryouts and that’s not enough to ice a competitive team for the long haul of a full season of provincial play.

Major finds it disheartening that there are so many good female hockey players in this neck of the woods but he can’t get enough to ice a team.

He believes there are a number of things that weigh into the low numbers. While he’s seen the numbers dropping at both the AAA bantam and midget female programs in the west, he believes his current dilemma has a lot to do with some females opting to focus on a particular competitive school sport, while there are other situations that arose such as a girl from Port aux Basques giving up her skates and focusing her energy on being a competitive swimmer and two girls from St. Anthony not pumped about having to drive long hours in unpredictable weather every hockey session with their teammates.

He also believes some players are not so gung-ho about the program because of a new rule being implemented this year by Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador when it comes to the AAA program in the province. This year, players who play AAA hockey are allowed to return to their respective associations and play in their provincial tournaments if they have the blessing of their minor hockey executives and there is a feeling among the girls that some associations won’t allow them to return.

“That’s kind of disheartening for the girls,” Major said.

Not knowing what to do next, Major said he sought the advice of HNL and he’s waiting patiently to find out what are some options to explore and there appears to be a number on the table so he’s just going to wait it out for now and hope for the best.

He acknowledged that the Central IcePak are struggling to come up with a full complement of players so a move to join forces with the central girls is something that could be explored and the possibility of Major’s players being bolstered by female players in Labrador is also part of the discussions.

He has a group of girls who have embraced the game and found success along the way. He just hopes a solution can be found to ensure the girls who want to play competitive hockey have the option of doing it in their own back yard.

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