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Team representatives believe parity key to success for West Coast Senior Hockey League

All eyes are on the puck after linesman Tony Baird of Corner Brook drops the it for a faceoff between Ryan Meade of the Corner Brook Royals, left, and Brad Lucas of the Stephenville Jets during a West Coast Senior Hockey League game during the inaugural campaign of the new league.
All eyes are on the puck after linesman Tony Baird of Corner Brook drops the it for a faceoff between Ryan Meade of the Corner Brook Royals, left, and Brad Lucas of the Stephenville Jets during a West Coast Senior Hockey League game during the inaugural campaign of the new league.

Money in the bank to start the season.

Plenty of prospects to form a competitive roster.

Affordable ticket prices with an attractive season pass package.

Corner Brook Royals president Richard Dennis can’t wait for puck drop on the first full season of the new West Coast Senior Hockey League.

The league will open the regular season Nov.17-18 weekend with all four entries — including the Deer Lake Red Wings, Stephenville Jets and Port aux Basques Mariners — each playing a home and an away game.

League officials are still working out some of the details regarding player allotment, but Dennis said all hands are committed to making sure every organization can compete on an even keel and that parity exists throughout the league.

Talks are ongoing about protected player lists for each team to ensure all teams can be competitive, but the number is still up in the air right now.

Port aux Basques, because of its small population, always struggles to recruit enough bodies and this year it appears no different with only a handful of regulars available on a full-time basis. But Dennis said the league is willing to make some allowances for the Mariners to keep things viable for the long haul.

“You got to have four teams who are competitive because if not you’ll get one year out of it and then it will collapse,” Dennis said.

The Royals will hold its next open workout tonight 9:30 p.m. at the Kinsmen Arena II in Corner Brook. There were 30 players out for a skate last week and Dennis expects to see a few new faces make an appearance with the hopes of impressing coaches Darren Colbourne and Rob French.

The Mariners, under general manager and coach Mark Lawrence, had more fans in attendance than players at the team’s first skate a week ago, but there are several players who work away who will be available for parts of the season and the roster is expected to be filled out with players from outside the region like it’s been throughout the history of senior hockey in the gateway town.

Lawrence said people in the town are excited about senior hockey finding its way back to the west coast and he expects the community to come out in full force when the Mariners hit the ice opening weekend.

Lawrence likes the approach the league is taking with a local base product affordable for families to enjoy. He’s happy to see that the other centres understand the need for his team to be able to have access to players outside the town.

“It can’t just be one or two teams running away with it each year,” Lawrence said. “If you don’t have the competitiveness then the fans stay away.”

The Stephenville Jets held its first open workout at the Stephenville Dome Wednesday night and general manager Art Barry believes the Jets will be ready to compete with the other teams and expects the people in Stephenville will continue to support the team.

He had no problem getting sponsors to come on board last season and there were a couple of packed houses last year so he’s confident fans will want to see the Jets fly again.

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