Hockey Is Finally Back!

Updated: October 31, 2014

After several months off the ice, teams from the Central West Newfoundland Senior Hockey League are finally back.  There are many changes this season with the most notable will be the lack of the Conception Bay Cee Bee Stars and the Mount Pearl Blades.  Another big change is the Royals are back in Corner Brook and have made major changes to position themselves for a run at the Herder Memorial Championship.

Taking a look at the teams that are suiting up this year, we have the Clarenville Caribous have been at or near the top of the league standings since 2009.  They have seen great success, winning 3 Herders, finishing second the last two seasons and winning an Allan Cup.  They have an experienced lineup that has scoring power, a great defensive squad and arguably some of the best goaltending in the league in Jason Churchill.  Rumours have been circulating that their number one goalie Churchill might not be available for all games and that there were some doubts about the availability of Ryan Mior could impact their performance.  However, look for the Clarenville Caribous stake their claims to being one of the best senior hockey teams ever from Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Gander Flyers have made some big noise with some of their signings this year.  The Flyers got off to rocky start when they announced the signing of convicted sex offender Mark Yetman to their roster.
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 Shortly afterwards, the organization’s coach stepped down and things looked a bit iffy for the team.  However, like any great organization, the Flyers pulled together and rallied, signing some great names like former NHLer Greg Stewart.  The Flyers may have finished in the basement last season but given the new direction, signings and great corporate sponsorship, look at this team to make some noise this season and move up in the standings.

The Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts are the defending Herder Memorial Champions.  This is a team that has built a great organization from the ground up.  It has a solid lineup, great goaltending, great coaches and great volunteers.  The biggest move prior to the season came in a trade with the Royals.  The Cats sent Dane Marshall and Brandon Nicholas to the Royals for Justin Barbour and Colin Power.  In adding Barbour to the lineup they gained a great player with the capacity to hurt any team in the league with his scoring ability.  He was arguably one of the best players for the Royals last season and will add extra depth to the Cats.  Look for the Cataracts to hold their own and be at the top of the standings at the end of the season.

The wildcard in the league this year is the Corner Brook Royals.  After playing a few seasons in Deer Lake under the name “Western Royals”, the Royals are back in the city and this year there is a different atmosphere.  The team has great community support with the creation of a “booster” club and a general manager who has made it known he wants the Herder.  The Royals will have Darren Langdon behind the bench, bringing with him years of NHL experience.  He has earned a great deal of respect coaching in the past, previously leading the Deer Lake Red Wings to a Herder.  On the ice, there are some big changes.  Steve North is gone and some of the perennial players will not be back.  Ross Coates has rebuilt this team from the ground up, focusing on younger, more skilled players.  In the lineup as an import will be Phil Mangan, a gritty and dangerous forward that brings a wealth of experience.  Hunter Tremblay, Ryan Penney, Chris Hulit and Michael Hynes will be big threats up front.  Veteran Mark Robinson is coming off perhaps his worst senior hockey league performance but if the rumours that we are hearing are true, Robinson is hungry for another championship and sees this current Royals roster as one of the best he has played with.  The weakest part of the Royals lineup is still goaltending.  Back this season is Brad Dyke and Bryan Gillis and both have shown they can be both great and terrible.  However, this season, the Royals have improved on defense.  Players like Dane Marshall, Mike Dike and Stephen Simms will relied on to keep the opposition at bay and give their goalies an opportunity to make the big save.
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Yes, Newfoundland Senior Hockey is back!  We won’t make any predictions just yet until we see some of these teams on the ice.
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  After all, it is Newfoundland Senior Hockey where anything can happen!

What are your predictions for this season?

Join the discussion taking place on the Newfoundland Hockey Talk discussion forum.


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