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HALIFAX — The Carleton Ravens opened defence of their Canadian university men's basketball championship with an 85-69 victory over Calgary on Thursday.
Thank God it’s Friday.
It’s a safe bet this is what diehard hockey fans in Port aux Basques and Stephenville will be thinking with senior hockey making its return in the two communities.
The new West Coast Senior Hockey League will feature two Friday games with the Stephenville Jets hosting the Deer Lake Red Wings at the Stephenville Dome and the Port aux Basques Mariners hosting the Corner Brook Royals at the Bruce II Sports Centre.
It’s been a number of years since either west coast community had senior hockey in its back yard so officials with both teams are expecting capacity crowds for both games.
The league opened last Saturday night with 1,100 fans packing the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex in Deer Lake to watch the hometown Red Wings register a 6-2 win over the Corner Brook Royals in a hard-hitting affair.
Deer Lake Red Wings vs Stephenville Jets
Brad Lucas, a Herder winner with the Deer Lake Red Wings in 2001, is looking forward to wearing the Jets jersey in front of family and friends.
Lucas, who will turn 38 next month, still has a thirst for competitive hockey so he’s glad to have a chance to play at home for the first time in many years. He is a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who spent six years in the Northwest Territories and a couple of years in Harbour Grace before moving back to the west coast.
No matter where he’s gone over the past week, the return of the Jets is a hot topic of conversation. Friends and family of the Stephenville Crossing native are texting him asking where and when they can buy tickets and telling him they can’t wait to watch the new edition of the Jets.
“Oh my God, it’s foolish. Everybody out here is talking about hockey,” Lucas said Thursday.
There is a buzz around town with the return of senior hockey and Lucas believes it all has to do with the direction the league has taken with the promotion of a local brand of hockey.
“You’re going to see a lot of family members supporting the local guy, which is great for the area,” he said. “Around Stephenville for the past 10 days it seems like everybody is talking about it and that’s great to see.”
Corner Brook Royals vs Port aux Basques Mariners
Port aux Basques native Tristan Butt had timing on his side when the idea of a senior hockey league on the west coast came to life because he was destined to be doing his work term for his engineering program at Memorial University in his hometown at the same time.
He’s proud to wear the Mariners jersey because he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his uncle Glenn Allen who won a Herder with the Mariners in 1989.
“It’s going to be pretty cool having my parents and grandparents in the stands watching me wear the same jersey he wore,” Butt said.
The 19-year-old product of the Port aux Basques minor hockey system says the return of senior hockey has people excited. He said it’s a big deal when the Mariners hit the ice and everywhere he goes people are talking hockey and a lot of his friends are talking about it on social media.
He has no doubt a huge crowd will be on hand to welcome the Mariners back.
“There’s a huge buzz in Port aux Basques. I can’t wait to play,” he said.