Column: A passion for the game

John Browne
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Neil Norcott has been involved in amateur hockey for about 20 years in some capacity or another.
You might scratch your head and wonder why anyone would want to get involved in senior hockey these days, but Norcott simply says it’s “passion for the sport,” that keeps him connected to it.
“I’m doing what I like to do,” said Norcott who denied there are a lot of headaches that come with the job.
“They’re not that many, really. Yeah, there are ongoing issues. Sometimes parties are not as cooperative as others,” he said.

Neil Norcott was recently named the president of the newly formed Central-West Senior Hockey League.

He admitted there is a bit frustration sometimes.

“Some executives are easier to deal with than others. I’ve got a little bit of a reconciliatory bone in my body that seems to work pretty well in keeping people on the straight and narrow and trying to get everyone to buy into the same program.

“It’s a challenge from time to time, though,” he admitted.

The 49-year-old Clarenville real estate broker, who has been involved in several executive areas over the years, is the president of the newly-minted Central-West Senior Hockey League that includes Western Royals, Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts, Gander Flyers and the Clarenville Caribous. It’s a role he held with the former Newfoundland Senior Hockey League.

He believes the new league will sustain itself because there’s always been cooperation among those four centres.

“This four-team league should work a whole lot better than last year’s six-team provincial league,” said Norcott, who spent 13 years on Clarenville Minor Hockey Association as executive member and coach, before moving on to senior.

What sort of power Norcott will actually wield is debatable but he’s convinced the four team operators are in it for the long haul and, therefore, will pull together to make it work.

There are obviously some questions that won’t be answered perhaps until the new season begins.

Could the league survive without paid players or players from the east coast?

“Not without players from the east coast. Not a chance,” Norcott said.

“It would be tough without paid import players only because the entertainment level has to be at a certain point where people will buy in. You probably don’t need five or six imports per team but you probably would need two or three to keep the calibre where the fans would be interested.”

There’s no east coast representation, so where does that leave the status of the Herder Memorial Trophy Championship Series for the coming season?

“There’s no desire on our part to play for the Herder Memorial Trophy unless it’s against an opponent from the east coast,” Norcott stated bluntly, though he wouldn’t rule it out if there are no other options.

The only league in the east is the Avalon East Senior Hockey League but they are not ‘A’ status according to Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL) so therefore not eligible to play for the Herder at this point.

The Avalon league was pushed back to being a senior B circuit after it’s short-lived ‘A’ status was removed during Hockey HNL’s fall meeting in 2012.

Interestingly, Norcott said he believes there are some discussions going on now that may change Avalon league’s status for the coming season.

“It’s not up to us. It’s up to HNL,” noted Norcott.

“If we are the only senior league eligible to play for the Herder, perhaps the top two teams in our league would play for that championship. I don’t know if HNL would do that. Maybe there won’t be any competition for the Herder.”


There was a father-son combination first on the Smallwood diamond in St. John’s Molson senior baseball Monday night. Shamrocks’ Sean Gulliver played third base while son, Parker, was at second against the Knights... The fact that 11-year-old Lucy Li qualified for the U.S. Open tells you all you need to know about women’s golf today. The kid’s adorable but playing in the Open, really? Li, who failed to make the cut, had the same score (8-over 78) as Catherine O’Donnell, Natalie Gulbis and Jessica Korda, a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour... Jumping on the Dutch bandwagon. There’s a slight connection. I was Amsterdam many moons ago, toured the old Amsterdam Arena. Really loved that clean city. Very friendly people... How ironic, and satisfying for some, would it be if the Avalon East Senior Hockey League is the only one left standing in two years?... The Toronto Blue Jays should find a way to keep Munenori Kawasaki on the roster for the rest of the season... Did you know that baseball great Gordon Breen was named 1976 Mercantile Softball League regular season MVP (27-70 .386, five home runs, 18 RBI and, in 1977, he was named league coach of the year?... Any chance local Challege Cup league will add England for next season?

Organizations: Central-West Senior Hockey League, Clarenville Minor Hockey Association, Avalon East Senior Hockey League Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador Trophy Championship Series Smallwood Molson Toronto Blue Jays Mercantile Softball League

Geographic location: Clarenville, Amsterdam, England

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