The four teams in the ECSHL — C.B.S. Blues, Northeast Eagles, Southern Shore Breakers and St. John’s Caps — will each play the three CWSHL teams — Clarenville Caribous, Gander Flyers and Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts — once this season.
The Central West teams will not be making the trip to metro St. John’s to play interlocking games with the ECSHL.
The interlocking play comes at a time when the Central West league, with only three teams, was on the verge of folding. As a result, it’s a welcomed addition by the Caribous, Flyers and Cataracts.
Joe Maynard, an executive member of the newly-formed East Coast circuit, said his league was fully aware of the CWSHL’s plight.
“We knew they were in dire straights, so in order to keep the league operating, we agreed to interlocking games,” he said, adding the CWSHL is helping offset costs incurred by the travelling East Coast teams.
“And it will be good competition leading up to the Herder.”
The winner of the ECSHL and WCSHL will again meet for the provincial senior hockey championship.
Last season, Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador ruled the champion of what was then the Avalon East Senior Hockey League could add six strengthening players for Herder play.
That could change this season with the interlocking play, said Ian Sullivan from the Breakers.
“These games should give us a good look at how we match up for the Herder,” Sullivan said. “Maybe we’ll find there’s only a need for three (strengthening) players.”
The ECSHL is what’s left of last year’s Avalon East circuit, before a mass resignation of the executive over the summer, coupled with the ousting if the C.B.N. CeeBee Stars, led to the formation of a new league under president Jack Casey of St. John’s.
The CeeBees, Paradise and Mount Pearl are said to be interested in setting up a senior circuit.
Each team in the East Coast operation will play an 18-game schedule, four of which will be interlocking teams.
The league is slated to open Oct. 27.
The Eagles and Caps will play Friday nights, at Jack Byrne Arena and Twin Rinks, while the Breakers are set to play Sunday evenings at the Southern Shore Arena. The Blues were formally the Bell Island Blues, but will play the majority of their games at the C.B.S. Arena. However, there is still a plan to play some games on Bell Island.
As for the CWSHL, that league officially opens Nov. 4-5 with Gander playing host to Grand Falls-Windsor. Each team will play a 20-game schedule, four of which are interlocking games.
The big news with that league is that import skaters flown in for weekend play are no longer permitted. Teams are, however, allowed an import goalie.
Players who reside in, for example, St. John’s but travel to Grand Falls are not considered imports.