The birth of a new senior hockey league is something local fans should be willing to support and get excited about, says avid senior hockey follower Larry O’Quinn.
The Western Royals, Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts, Gander Flyers and Clarenville Caribous will compete in the Central-West Senior Hockey League this winter.
At a special meeting Tuesday night, representatives of the four senior hockey franchises unanimously approved a framework for the new league. This new league was formed as a result of the same four teams withdrawing from the provincial senior hockey league last week.
Neil Norcott of Clarenville, who served as president of the provincial senior league that also featured the CeeBee Stars and Mount Pearl Blades, confirmed a new league has been formed in an email Tuesday.
“A primary goal for all the teams involved in the new senior hockey setup is to bring back scheduling of games that have teams playing at home every second weekend,” Norcott said. “Long layoffs and scheduling difficulties were cited by all representatives as a big problem in the province-wide league.”
If the goal is to get bums back in the seats, O’Quinn, a Corner Brook native who has followed the senior hockey scene and the Royals since 1966, believes the new league could be the answer.
“It’s the best thing that could happen,” O’Quinn said. “It might bring back some rivalry.”
He believes being able to see the team on a regular basis should allow fans to follow their team better than what he witnessed the past three years with the provincial setup.
“The fans should get more interested because you’re going to get hockey every second week,” he said. “Before, sometimes you were three weeks and only get one game and then you lose interest.”
What venue the Royals will call home this winter remains to be seen, although it’s common knowledge that Dennis Waterman is spearheading a drive to have the team return to the Pepsi Centre this winter. O’Quinn has travelled the highway for three years to watch the Royals play in Deer Lake, and also made a regular trek to Grand Falls-Windsor with his wife Lydia each year.
“It didn’t work in Deer Lake. They didn’t get the fan support in Deer Lake,” he said. “They thought they were going to, but it didn’t work at all.”
He’s fully supportive of the Royals returning to the city for this year. He doesn’t want a long winter without senior hockey to follow.
“If the fans don’t support it now, it’s their own fault,” he said.
Approval of the new league’s constitution and bylaws, along with election of a new executive, will be completed at a meeting of team officials this weekend in Gander. Once this has been achieved, an application for approval will be forwarded to Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador.