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CeeBees’ Bartlett suggests changes have to be made if east teams want to effectively challenge those from the west

Chris Bartlett

There’s no discounting the Conception Bay North Eastlink CeeBee Stars’ dominance of the Avalon East Senior Hockey League. After all, the CeeBees have won the league title seven consecutive years.

But after losing a third straight Herder Memorial Trophy championship series on the weekend — falling to the West Coast Senior Hockey League champion Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts in four straight games — the CeeBees and the AESHL’s ability to compete against the West Coast circuit will undoubtedly be called into question.

“I’d say there’s players, management and fans who are saying ‘This is three times in a row we’ve got to the Herder final and we didn’t win,’” says CeeBees veteran forward Chris Bartlett.

“I’m not gonna say the east can’t compete with the west, because I think we can. I just don’t think we were up for the challenge Grand Falls-Windsor gave us.”

After losing by a single goal in each of the first two games of the provincial senior final,  played at Mile One Centre, Bartlett said the CeeBees went to central Newfoundland with every intention of “stealing a couple of games to bring (the series) back to Mile One.”

But those intentions immediately took a knocking,. By the end of the first period of Friday’s Game 3 at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium, the CeeBees were down 3-0.

“They got a couple of bounces early in the game and we couldn’t rally from those deficits,” Bartlett recounts. “When frustration sets in, as hard as you work, things just don’t go your way.”

The CeeBees dropped that game 8-2 and were blanked 4-0 in Saturday’s Game 4.

“I don’t think man for man we were much weaker, but every person on their team played to the best of their ability and we didn’t have that,” says Bartlett, who returned to the CeeBees this season after a two-year hiatus during which the club lost back-to-back Herders to the Clarenville Caribous.

“I’m not gonna say the east can’t compete with the west, because I think we can. I just don’t think we were up for the challenge Grand Falls-Windsor gave us.” Chris Bartlett

Bartlett says the Cats play a completely different style of hockey than what the Deer Lake Red Wings brought to the ice in four straight Herder tilts against the CeeBees from 2004-2005 to 2007-2008.

“It was more a physical style of hockey (against Deer Lake),” he says.  Grand Falls-Windsor didn’t play that way. They played a quick puck moving, fast-paced style.”

There’s no telling what changes will be coming in CeeBee country during the off-season, but a rematch with the Cataracts could happen sooner than next spring as rumours of interlocking play between the two leagues persist.

Bartlett feels teams on this side of the island can compete, but says changes to how the Avalon East operates would enable them to be even more competitive.

“It does have to adopt changes that will match what the west can do, maybe without the draft or allowing teams to be a little more free in what they do.

In the west, Bartlett says the four teams’ ability to put together the best possible rosters makes for a more competitive league.

“They’re getting a quality game of hockey every game, whereas we weren’t and that’s a big advantage. The AESHL has to look at how they can make our league more competitive game in, game out.”

Bartlett is not suggesting an unregulated return to the old provincial senior circuit of the 1980s and early 90s.

“I don’t know if that’s the route to go because when that much money got involved, look what happened.”

Organizations: West Coast Senior Hockey League

Geographic location: Avalon East, Conception Bay, West Coast Newfoundland Deer Lake Falls

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Recent comments

  • jp
    April 05, 2011 - 15:22

    Rec league? Ask the 5000 ppl who were down to the Herder last weekend at Mile One or the other 1000s who couldnt find a ticket. If you got nothing good to say dont comment simple. Some ppl would like to see some kind of hockey being played at Mile One.

  • jp
    April 05, 2011 - 13:35

    Time to bring back the old Senior Provincial Wide league, cmon its been long enough it worked for a long time 60s,70s 80s etc. Bring in Sponsers for teams go from there St.Johns, Corner Brook, Grand Falls, Deer Lake, Mount Pearl, Ceebees, Clarenville theres enough teams there. They need to find a way to limit the imports. St.Johns, Mount Pearl aloud 3 0r 4 , the rest up to 6. Theres enough money here in the Province to do this. If its done right it could be very succesful.

  • Jim
    April 05, 2011 - 12:18

    OMG nobody cares about this rec hockey league. Get a life.

  • G. Evans
    April 05, 2011 - 10:07

    Correct Toby: am·a·teur    1. a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons. Compare professional. 2. an athlete who has never competed for payment or for a monetary prize. It's a shame, why don't each team in the East and West Leagues issue a report on their yearly Budgets. I would bet the Kyle would become seaworthy again if people in that region only knew what their players were paid this year.

  • Toby Flanderson
    April 05, 2011 - 08:28

    Only the third team to lose three straight herders. Something has to be done to allow the East teams to compete, but lets not forget that the CeeBees themselves won three straight herders.........what did the West league do any differently you may ask? Upped their recruitment process, and in turn upped their payrolls. How? Sponsors, booster clubs, and great management. The Caribous and now Grand Falls found a way to beat the Ceebees. Some say that $$$$ buys championships, however it was no secret that they were out coached and out worked during the last three herder finals. Both teams were talented, ask any Ceebees fan just how good their teams were, they'll have no trouble telling you. Maybe its time for a changing of the guard. Creating a province wide league may be the demise of both the East and West leagues. I don't see a problem in having a AA and A Sr. hockey league, with team having an affiliate with a feeder system...........the local St. John's Jr. League and Central West Jr. league. I know population wise, there are more hockey players in St. John's and the surrounding areas, however if Sr. hockey wishes to continue operating, something of this nature has to be put in place. I do like that we have one team heading the Allan Cup, AAA SR. hockey, each year, but are we competitive enough. Each team Clarenville played last year, boasted former NHL and professional hockey players from all leagues across the globe. How can we compete if we just have locals? We can't, plain and simple. All this being accounted for, there is very little Hockey NL can do to control the salaries being paid to these amateur athletes. Amateur, yes they play for the Herder, which is the trophy presented to the winner or the NL Amateur Sr. hockey league. This may also have to be changed and a new trophy be put in place as its not a secret that all the Sr. hockey teams pay players. Amateur is out, I'm sure the Herder family echoes this. Just a thought, why not name a new trophy after a local Sr. player from this province. Certainly there are numerous players that come to mind........Andy Sulllivan, George Faulkner.........both dominated in their era's, just to name a couple.