The Allan Cup Canadian senior hockey championship is coming to Newfoundland for the first time in 2015.
What’s more, there’s a good chance the province could be represented by two teams in the six-team, 11-game tournament that takes place over six days in April.
“If we don’t have a playdown for Atlantic Canada — and right now, there’s no other province in Atlantic Canada interested in playing for the Allan Cup — then we’d automatically have two teams,” says Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador president Jack Lee, who was present for the announcement from Hockey Canada at its annual general meeting in Halifax over the weekend.
One team would serve as host, while the other would be the Herder Memorial Trophy champion from the previous season.
“If the host team is going to be involved with the organization, we’ve got to come up with a formula that meets the needs of what Hockey Canada wants, and they don’t want the provincial winner that year to be the host.”
Lee says it’s too soon to speculate about where the tourney might be played. What he can say is that Hockey Canada’s senior council “governs it pretty tightly” and will “want it in an area that will showcase the event.”
Once the tournament requirements come in from Hockey Canada and an organizing committee is put in place, Lee says they’ll begin serious discussions to see what will work best.
“We’re excited Hockey Canada awarded it to us. We’re excited about getting things put together, but we’re far from ready to say this is where it’s going to be or even how we’re going to decide where it’s going to be.”
Lee says former senior hockey chair Bill Noseworthy, who stepped down earlier this year amid controversy over the location of 2012 Herder Memorial Trophy championship games, is due a great deal of credit for getting the bid accepted by Hockey Canada’s senior council.
“He was the one who brought us into the Allan Cup and had a lot to do in setting the scene to make our job as a branch easier.”
There was talk earlier this year of the province hosting the event in 2014, but it was awarded instead to the Dundas, Ont. Real McCoys. Lee says having to wait three years could change how teams in the provincial senior league operate from season to season.
“Instead of trying to put all their eggs in one basket for one season, hopefully, they’ll learn now they have to build a team for a couple of years to get a shot at representing the province.”
Teams from this province regularly competed at the Allan Cup in the 1970s and 1980s, with the Corner Brook Royals claiming the title in 1986. Newfoundland clubs begin returning to the tournament in 2010, with the Clarenville Caribous copping the crown in 2011. The Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts travelled to Lloydminster, B.C., this past April, losing to the South East, Man., Prairie Thunder in the semifinal round.