Mount Pearl looks to appeal to entire metro area on its return to NLSHL
By John Browne
After a one-year-hiatus, the Mount Pearl H.J. Bartlett Electric Blades are back in the Newfoundland and Labrador Senior Hockey League (NLSHL), but if they’re to stay, then it’s up to the fans to support the team, according to team vice-president Jim Hare.
“We have confidence that the fans will come out and support us,” Hare told the Telegram Tuesday night.
Mount Pearl joins the defending champion Conception Bay North Eastlink Stars, Gander Flyers, Clarenville Caribous, Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts and Western Royals for the 2013-14 campaign.
“We’ve got all our homework done in terms of sponsors and fund-raisers and all that stuff,” said Hare. “It’s a great brand of hockey, but we’ve got to get bums in the seats. We need the fans to come out and support us in the Mount Pearl and metro area.”
Hare sees the potential for a broad base of support for his club.
“We’re based in Mount Pearl, but we are the only provincial senior A team in the metropolitan area from the northeast to the Southern Shore,” he said.
The Blades, under head coach and general manager Brian Cranford, will be holding their training camp from Sept. 13-15 at the Glacier.
Hare is expecting a good turnout for the camp, but said he can’t really talk about the roster until after the league draft, scheduled for Sept. 26.
In the meantime, Hare likes the team’s regular-season schedule, which has them playing mostly Friday and Saturday night games.
“We wanted to stay away from Sunday because it just didn’t seem to be a good draw in the past,” he noted.
The 2013-14 NLSHL season begins Nov. 1, with the defending champion C.B.N. Stars at Mount Pearl.
The league champion Stars will raise the Herder Memorial Trophy banner at the team’s home opener Nov. 2 against Mount Pearl.
It’s an uneven schedule with a total of 72 games, one that has each club playing 24 times.
For example, Mount Pearl, Conception Bay North and Clarenville play each other six times, but have just four games each against Gander, Western and Grand Falls-Windsor. The schedule is similarly weighted in terms of the three western-most teams.
The playoff format and import rules will be decided at the semi-annual meeting this weekend in Gander.
However, it looks as if all six teams will make the playoffs, with Mount Pearl, C.B.N. and Clarenville playing a round-robin Eastern semifinal series to decide who plays the winner of a western round-robin playoff involving Grand Falls-Windsor, Western and Gander, with the two winners facing off for the Herder Memorial Trophy.