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The Stephenville Minor Hockey Association isn’t allowing players who play for AAA hockey teams to play for their respective rep team unless it can be done without displacing a player registered in the program.
This decision isn’t a popular one for Stephen Shea.
His daughter, Maria, is a member of the Western Kings AAA peewee team in the provincial league and didn’t earn a spot on the Stephenville peewee A or B rep teams because there were enough players to fill out the rosters for both sides.
“They should be picking their best players first,” Shea said earlier this week.
Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL) announced last summer that each individual minor association would have the final say about whether or not they allow AAA players to play for their association’s rep team at a provincial tournament in Easter.
The subject was broached at HNL’s meetings in June after some centres expressed concern about recruiting a full compliment of players for the AAA program.
Association president Genny Duffenais said her executive put a lot of thought into how to deal with the situation. They eventually came to the decision that they would follow the past practice of not allowing AAA players to play for their rep team unless it could be done without taking a game of hockey away from somebody registered in the Stephenville system.
“We will not allow them to play and have a child who has been playing all year with the association not get a provincial tournament,” Duffenais said.
Duffenais said players who play for AAA teams, Shea being among those, have to be really committed to their team, with a busy schedule that includes a fair amount of time on the road.
She says players who are committed to the AAA program are away a lot, so the rep teams would be short on numbers with them out of the picture, and she didn’t see this as being fair to the players who committed to their rep team.
Shea would have preferred the association allowed AAA players to come back and play. He said his daughter is a product of the Stephenville minor hockey program and became the player she did because of coaches in the system.
“They should be allowed to represent the association they’re from,” he said.
Shea admits his daughter is playing at the appropriate level as a slick-skating member of the Western Kings AAA peewee team, but he still believes his daughter shouldn’t be denied a chance to play for her hometown, and sees the decision as a way to set up young players for failure down the road. He doesn’t like the mentality of “everybody is a winner and everybody gets a medal.”
“I think you should have to earn what you get,” he said.
Duffenais acknowledged Shea is a great player who has done a fantastic job of promoting female hockey in the area. She also understands why her father was looking out for her best interest.
However, she was quick to point out the decision wasn’t personal, and several other AAA peewee players were also denied a chance to play for the rep team.
“If I truly felt this was a personal attack against his daughter, then I would be on board,” she said.
What other west coast minor hockey associations decided:
Deer Lake — AAA players aren’t allowed to play for rep teams;
Corner Brook — AAA players aren’t allowed to play for rep teams;
Gros Morne — AAA players are allowed to play for rep teams provided it doesn’t interfere with their commitment to the AAA program. (In other words, they have to play AAA before rep if both teams are playing at the same time);
Port aux Basques — Because of small numbers, players who make an AAA team are also allowed to play for their rep team.