STAR STAFF WRITER
CORNER BROOK, N.L. — Now that a draft system has been adopted for this season’s three-team West Coast Senior Hockey League, team representatives hope it will work.
With three competitive teams this season, Dave Bruce of the Corner Brook Royals executive feels the potential exists for a great year of hockey.
Obviously, acknowledged Bruce, a four-team setup would have been better for everyone had the Stephenville Jets stayed in the league.
Joining the Royals will be the Deer Lake Red Wings and Port aux Basques Mariners.
“We must really work together so the three teams can function competitively.”
The Jets had to ground their efforts to ice a team this year because of a lack of committed players.
Art Barry, who ran the Stephenviile team, said he can respect people for not being able to commit, but has doubts a draft system will work because of the cost to take care of players from other areas.
Perry Compton, general manage of the Deer Lake Red Wings, said Stephenville is going through the same thing his team experienced last year with the lack of players. The Red Wings, despite saying they had a solid financial footing last season, still couldn't form a team for the league.
They don’t have a full roster yet, but Compton said they will have enough through the draft system.
“We’ll all have equal picks and get a top player. It will keep parity in the league, which I support,” Compton said.
He would like to see Stephenville back next year as the more variety the better.
So far, Deer Lake has about 15 or 16 dedicated players and needs another eight to 10 for a full bench.
A few years ago, noted Compton, Deer Lake had a 25-player roster and had trouble getting 10 to play its road games in Port aux Basques.
“Deer Lake has a great fan base and people really missed the hockey last year,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll give them a good game to watch.”
Mark Lawrence, general manager of the Port aux Basques Mariners, is happy with the work by the league executive and praised Bruce for keeping it moving forward.
He believes the draft will bode well for the league and it gives players a chance to play.
“It really doesn’t matter where you’re located as you end up having to drive,” Lawrence said of draft players.
He said with kids playing hockey all their life growing up, they need to be filtered into senior hockey so they can give a team a try.
Lawrence believes the Mariners will be a competitive team with draft players and he’s looking forward to Juan Strickland taking over the job as head coach.
“I feel it’s time for someone to step in and lead the way,” he said.
Barry, meanwhile, said the game still remains in his veins. Having operated the Jets for decades, he's paid his dues and just can’t keep at it any longer.
If someone else wanted to get the Jets going next year, Barry said he would support them 100 per cent.
“I brought hockey back to Stephenville three years ago, but now it doesn’t seem anyone wants it,” Barry said.
About the league
- The league will start up the weekend of Nov. 22-23 and feature the same type of 12-game schedule it had last year.
- The draft system will see each team submit a protected player list that includes 13 players and two goalies.
- Once the protected list has been submitted, anyone else who wants to play must register for the draft to round out the teams.
Source: West Coast Senior Hockey League