Royals president doesn’t see game with CeeBee Stars being replayed

Dave Kearsey
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DEER LAKE  The only way the Western Royals will play another game in Harbour Grace this year is if it involves a showdown for the Herder.

The Royals closed out its regular-season interlocking schedule against the Eastlink CeeBee Stars last weekend with only one game of the two-game set being played. The Royals lost 4-3 to the CeeBee Stars on Saturday night, but Sunday’s game was only 20 minutes old and the home team leading 1-0 when things went awry for all hands enjoying a matinee affair at the S. W. Moores Memorial Stadium.

During the first intermission, a malfunction with the ice resurfacing machine’s propane tanks led the machine to jettison slush and water into the slot area in front of one of the nets. Attempts were made to get the ice back in safe condition but to no avail as league officials opted to err on the side of caution and cancel the contest.

Royals president Ross Coates hasn’t heard anything from league officials as to the status of the game in question, but one thing for sure is the team won’t be absorbing any extra cost because of the cancellation.

“We will not be returning to Harbour Grace not from our point of view unless they’re willing to cover the costs,” Coates said. “We’re not driving back out to Harbour Grace to play two periods of hockey. It’s just not going to happen because it’s not economically feasible.”

Coates believes the league will take a wait-and-see attitude on the meltdown and that’s just fine with him.

“I think what’s going to happen is they’re going to just leave it until the end of the season because we got one weekend off before playoffs,” he said. “If points mean nothing I don’t think anything will be done about it and it will be just wiped out.”

Last year league officials dealt with a similar situation when a game between the Flyers and CeeBees was cancelled and ended up being scrapped when it was determined the outcome of the game would have no impact on the standings. This is reason enough for him to think the same will happen this time around.

 The playoff format for the 2014 season was officially announced earlier this week and a close look at the standings leads Coates to believe that particular game will have little impact on the standings. The top team in the East and West at end of the regular season gets a bye in the first round, so it’s a safe bet the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts will stay atop the East and the Clarenville Caribous will remain at the top of the pack in the East. The two semifinal rounds will feature a best-of-five showdown played over two weekends with both series starting Feb. 15 in the rink of the second-place finisher.

“I don’t see it changing a whole lot unless we have a total meltdown ourselves,” he said. “I don’t see it changing a lot. We’re going to be playing Gander no matter who is home and I think you’re going to see Harbour Grace and Mount Pearl play in the other series.”

The Royals, who hold a seven-point lead over the Gander Flyers in the East, will tangle with its expected first-round opponent in three games this weekend, playing at home Friday night 8:30 p.m. at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex before making the trek to central for two games — Saturday 7:30 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m. at the Gander Community Centre. The Royals wrap up the regular season at home to the Mount Pearl H J Bartlett Electric Blades with games slated for Jan. 31 at 8:30 p.m. and Saturday 7:30 p.m. at the Hodder.

Coates said the playoff format is something all teams had to live with at the end of the day.

“It was pretty much all we could do. There weren’t many options really,” he said. “The triple round robin was way too expensive to actually even consider doing and the only other option would be that.  Some suggested a best-of-three but teams felt that was a little too risky. You play all year for possibly two games and you’re gone so we had to give everybody a bit more playoff hockey.”

It really means the Royals and Flyers can get an early start to putting on the game faces for the drive to the championship.

“Our goal now is to get the second spot hopefully and get home-ice advantage in the first round,” he said.

Organizations: Flyers, Gander Community Centre

Geographic location: DEER LAKE, Mount Pearl

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