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Mariners news from Western NL hockey AGM


Published on June 13, 2017

The Port aux Basques Mariners will play a full season in 2017-2018 after a short but popular return to the ice last year.

©J. R. Roy / Special to The Gulf News

After a brief but successful return to the ice last winter, the Port aux Basques Mariners will play their first full season in 2017-2018.

Representatives from the Port aux Basques Mariners were in Gander this past weekend for the Western Hockey League’s annual general meeting. From left: Jamie Young, Mark Lawrence and Shannon Battiste.

President Shannon Battiste confirmed that 18 games are on the upcoming season schedule.

Battiste was part of the Mariners executive group that attended the Western League’s annual general meeting (AGM) held in Gander on this past weekend.

The league will learn within the next couple of weeks whether or not it will be classified as Senior A, just like the Avalon East and Central leagues. Should the Western League achieve the classification, it would make them eligible to compete in the Herder Cup.

“I don’t see it becoming an issue,” said Battiste via phone interview.

Battiste also spoke briefly about fairly recent ruling changes regarding paying players and importing them from outside Newfoundland.

“It was part of the reason (the Mariners team) folded 17 years ago,” said Battiste. “We were trying to keep up.”

Now that players, for the most part, cannot be imported from other provinces, Battiste feels it helps the league regain parity and will allow the newly reformed Mariners to remain competitive.

The Western League will be comprised of four teams. In addition to Port aux Basques, Deer Lake, Stephenville and Corner Brook will also compete.

After the regular season is finished, the first round of post-season competition will be a best-of-five series, with the final round of the playoffs a best-of-seven.

Battiste said the league still has issues they’re trying to iron out before adding any more teams. Discussions took place about draft territory, a major consideration for the Mariners. While most teams have a population of nearly 20,000 to dig through for players, Port aux Basques has roughly a population of 4,500.

What is important is that all interested players in the western region have a team they can qualify for. No doubt that and other details will keep league executives busy up to and during the upcoming season.

Battiste advises that the Central League is actively searching for another team. With only Carbonear, Gander and Grand Falls icing teams, the need for a fourth to help round out the schedule is underway.

Meanwhile, Battiste seems quite keen for hockey season to hurry up and get here.

“I’ve already got ice time booked,” he laughed.