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Clarenville Caribous and East Coast Senior Hockey League still waiting for answers on season

The Clarenville Ford Caribous (left to right: Justin Pender, Kevin Reid and Chad Earle) celebrate a goal during CWSHL play last season.
The Clarenville Ford Caribous (left to right: Justin Pender, Kevin Reid and Chad Earle) celebrate a goal during CWSHL play last season. - SaltWire File Photo

A little more than a week out from the start of the East Coast Senior Hockey League and there are still questions if the league will open on time. 

That is because of indications that Hockey NL has declined to sanction the five-team league over their decision to not allow the CBN CeeBee Stars back into the fold for this year. 

The CeeBees were removed from the league three years ago. 

Representatives from both HNL and the east coast league declined to comment on the situation, although the Central Voice has confirmed the league has appealed HNL’s decision to Hockey Canada. 

The decision on the appeal could be brought down Friday, Oct. 18, at the earliest or at the latest Monday, Oct. 21.

Drama and uncertainty days before the scheduled kick off for the season are nothing new in this province’s senior hockey circles lately. There always seems to be something that holds up a smooth start to any senior campaign. 

It is for that reason that Clarenville Caribous general manager Ivan Hapgood has started operating as if that is the norm nowadays. 

“We’re geared up to start playing hockey,” he said. “It has affected planning and we’ve reached out to our sponsors.” 

That means the team is ready to start their season in Conception Bay South against the Conception Bay Blues on Oct. 25 and then get things started at home the following night on Oct. 26.  

Season passes went on sale earlier this week, but the uncertainty around the league isn’t expected to affect them much according to Hapgood. 

For the last couple of years, the Caribous have seen a lot of their ticket sales happen at the gate on game days. 

One thing that is an issue is the number of available players to each team in the league. The usual way to fill that is through a series of drafts across the year. 

The league has yet to hold its first draft of the season due to the HNL issues. 

“It is going to be mad come Monday trying to get things done,” said Hapgood. 

Meanwhile, organizers behind the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts and the Gander Flyers are tight lipped about any possible movement with their teams this winter.

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