It now appears certain that senior hockey will return to the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts for the first time in well over a decade.
Well-known hockey booster Brian Hurley of North River confirmed today (Sept. 17) that efforts will now move into high gear to prepare a team for action in the Avalon East senior league.
Hurley said an important hurdle was cleared over the weekend during Hockey NL meetings in Grand Falls-Windsor. It was decided that teams in the Avalon East league will not compete for the Herder Memorial Trophy, which is symbolic of senior hockey supremacy in the province.
Instead, the trophy will be awarded to the winner of the Newfoundland and Labrador Senior Hockey League, which will begin its second season next month.
The Avalon East league “will remain B category this season, and will focus on league expansion,” Hockey NL stated in a news release.
That’s just what Hurley was hoping to hear.
“We didn’t want to compete for the Herder,” Hurley said. “We want to ice a team in order to give some guys a competitive game of hockey, but are not interested in playing in the provincial league.”
It’s expected that the Bay Roberts team will be one of five entries in the Avalon East circuit, along with Bell Island, Northeast, St. John’s and Mount Pearl.
Hurley said plenty of work has to be done in the coming weeks. At the top of the list is a major sponsor. Hurley said it will cost roughly $10,000 to get the team ready to hit the ice, which includes the purchase of jerseys.
Player recruitment and the coach selection process also underway.
The as-yet-unnamed team is expected to play its home games on Tuesday nights, and Hurley expected ticket prices of “between $5 and $6.”
Hurley expects the team will be bolstered with players who have come up through the junior ranks, and he is keen to assemble a competitive roster.
“We’ve been approached by a number of people wanting a game of hockey. That’s why I started this in first place,” he said.
The organizing committee also includes Brian Ryan of Marysvale, Rod Noseworthy of Spaniard’s Bay and Edsel Parsons of Shearstown. Hurley said several others have expressed an interest in helping out.
Hurley emphasized that players will not be paid, though “it won’t cost them to play.”
“There’ll be a bit of (hockey) tape and a few beer after the games. And we may pay for gas for those who have to travel,” he said.
Hurley has spent a lifetime promoting and organizing hockey in the region. He is a former president of Bay Arena minor, and has been actively involved with the CBN Stars junior team for many years.
“I think there is an appetite for this,” Hurley said. “We’re not looking for 1,000 fans. We’d be happy with 200 or 300 per night.”