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Western Newfoundland players up for continuing senior hockey setup

Timmy Caines of the Stephenville Jets is watched closely by Port aux Basques Mariners captain Bruce Billard during their West Coast Senior Hockey League game at the Bruce II Sports Centre in Port aux Basques earlier this year.
Timmy Caines of the Stephenville Jets is watched closely by Port aux Basques Mariners captain Bruce Billard during their West Coast Senior Hockey League game at the Bruce II Sports Centre in Port aux Basques earlier this year.

Senior hockey has been a hot topic of conversation in all four centres involved.

Colbourne

Since the puck dropped on a 12-game mini-season that was to be used as a measuring stick on whether or not a full season of senior hockey would work on the west coast again, it’s been a hot topic of conversation.

The Star chatted with a few players earlier this week to get their thoughts on the new league.

 

 

Matt Colbourne

Corner Brook Royals

What did you think of the fan response to the new league?

I think it’s really incredible, I really do. Everywhere we went places were almost sold out and they’ve got some big rinks, but when you come here and you’ve got a rink that holds much more and you’re almost selling it out, especially for that last game, it’s incredible. I think it’s because of the local guys.

 

What did you think of the calibre of hockey played in the league?

Even though it’s all local guys, it’s been very fast hockey. It’s not as fast as it has been, but there are still a lot of young guys with young legs who are able to go the extra mile and stay out there that extra 30 seconds or so. The only difference is there is a lot more space with this hockey, but the speed is almost there.

 

Would you like to see a full season of senior hockey offered next winter and would you be interested in playing again?

I would love to see a full season and I think the fans would like to see it, too. If this year has been any indication of next season, then it would excellent. It would be a great change to have it come back and, as for me, I will be here next year and I will want to play.

 

Billard

Bruce Billard

Port aux Basques Mariners

What did you think of the fan response to the new league?

I thought it was incredible. From our perspective, I never in a million years thought the fans would come out like they did. They came out in droves and we had sellouts. That’s the most people I’ve ever seen in our stadium for any event, so you couldn’t ask for better fan support.

 

What did you think of the calibre of hockey played in the league?

It was faster and rougher than I ever anticipated. I thought with local players it would kind of be a slower pace and it wouldn’t be as rough and tumble as what it was. I was actually quite surprised at the level of hockey that there was for a local-based league.

 

Would you like to see a full season of senior hockey offered next winter and would you be interested in playing again?

I think a longer season would be good and a longer playoff definitely. It’s a balancing act between fans losing interest and a full season on the players as well. I’m not 100 per cent sure about playing because I’m getting up in age and the body just don’t respond the way it used to, but I would be definitely interested.

 

 

Young

Brad Lucas

Stephenville Jets

What did you think of the fan response to the new league?

I think the fan response has been tremendous. I wasn’t surprised, actually, because when talking about the hockey starting up everyone around just said, ‘Wow, can’t wait for it to start,’ so it seems like it was positive right from the get-go.

 

What did you think of the calibre of hockey played in the league?

I think the calibre of play was great considering most of the guys haven’t played any senior hockey in recent years and I think it will only get better in the coming year, for sure.

 

Would you like to see a full season of senior hockey offered next winter and would you be interested in playing again?

I would like to see a full season, but more along six games prior to Christmas, six after and maybe then two rounds of the playoffs, a best-of-three and then a best-of-five.

 

 

Lucas

Jason Young

Deer Lake Red Wings

What did you think of the fan response to the new league?

I think the fan response was tremendous in all four centres. On a personal note, we had a game Saturday against Port aux Basques in Deer Lake that meant nothing and we had over 600 people show up, so I definitely say the appetite for senior hockey is here.

 

What did you think of the calibre of hockey played in the league?

I think the calibre of play was quite high. I think people got to see that there was quite a lot of body contact and they got to see players that were on the ice who were from the local areas in the western portion of the province and could associate. I think it plays hand-in-hand with the turnout of the fans.

 

Would you like to see a full season of senior hockey offered next winter and would you be interested in playing again?

I would love to see a full season. I think the economies in all four towns will definitely benefit from a full season of senior hockey. I think a lot of the players were encouraged by the turnout and the response. It’s definitely something that the west coast of Newfoundland has had in the past, and I think needed to have this mini-season to kind of set the stage for what should be a full slate of games coming up in the fall.

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