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Intensity level expected to rise as Royals tangle with Red Wings for senior hockey crown

The next chapter in the vaunted Corner Brook Royals-Deer Lake Red Wings rivalry begins tonight at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex.
The next chapter in the vaunted Corner Brook Royals-Deer Lake Red Wings rivalry begins tonight at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex. - Star file photo

Jeremy Bishop and Ryan Penney have had some fun times playing for a number of senior hockey teams in this province, but now the two seasoned players are about to get a better sense of the rivalry that exists between two west coast communities.

Bishop, a Grand Falls-Windsor native, is a leader and offensive force for the Corner Brook Royals.

Penney, known in senior hockey circles as the Bull, is a Salmon Cove native who brings a physical presence and scoring prowess to the rival Deer Lake Red Wings.

The two rivalries will write another chapter in their long history of

‘Love hating the other’ when they lock horns in Game 1 of the West Coast Senior Hockey League best-of-seven final series tonight 8 p.m. at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex.

“It’s always an exciting time of year, that’s for sure,” Bishop said earlier this week.

Bishop expects the intensity level to rise in a series where he believes both sides are evenly matched, evident he figures by the fact the two franchises finished the regular season with the same number of points, but the Royals claimed first place because they had more wins.

“I think it’s going to come down to who gets the bounces and who wants it a little more,” he said.

Bishop, at 40 years of age, finds himself trying to provide direction and motivation to a bunch of young speedsters, but he also has to lead by example and he’s excited about that responsibility so he wants to make sure all hands are on deck.

“It’s the playoffs and an exciting time because I’m sure there will be packed houses and a little bit of excitement for the kids, but you can’t let your emotions get too high or too low,” Bishop said.

Penney is anxious to get the series going because he’s heard lots of stories about past showdowns between the two teams, but has never experienced it for himself.

As a player, he knows a thing or two about hockey rivalries.

Being from Conception Bay North and playing his minor hockey in Harbour Grace, Penney has been in the middle of the CeeBees-Bay Arena Rovers rivalry that has existed since the Bay Arena was opened in Bay Roberts in the late 1980s.

He expects a big crowd on hand to cheer for their favourite team and he thinks there will be some intense hockey because both sides don’t want to give an inch.

He respects the Royals as a formidable opponent, but he knows his squad had its share of wins against Corner Brook in the regular season so he doesn’t see why that won’t continue as long as they show up focused on winning the series.

“There is a championship up for grabs here and everyone is going to put their heart into it and everyone wants to win,” Penney said.

Game 1 of the series goes tonight 8 p.m. at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex. Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday 8 p.m. at the Corner Brook Civic Centre.

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