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Time for a return to university hockey in N.L.?

Memorial University’s St. John’s campus.
Memorial University’s St. John’s campus. - Joe Gibbons

One thing that always has seemed to be a huge problem here in our province, and more locally within our city, is continuity.

Oftentimes when something is being developed or a service that should be provided for free is presented it is often more times about money and making a profit then future development or growth within said field.

I feel the same is true when it comes to speaking about Memorial University and the City of St John’s. Though they exist within one another it seems that they are both foreign to one another as well.

If you visit any other university campus in the Maritimes, the communities and universities seem to work very fluidly together on everything from concerts to sporting events but that couldn't be further from the case here.

Let’s look at the Memorial University Field House, for example, a beautiful modern facility that gets minimal use outside of university planned activities.

More obviously one of the things we have to notice at the university level here in Newfoundland is our Varsity sports program — namely the absence of university hockey.

Since 1991, the City of Legends has played host to professional or Junior A hockey pretty regularly with the exception of a few years here and there.

The Maple Leafs called St. John's home for a decade and a half before the Toronto Maple Leafs home club moved them closer to home.

After that the St. John’s Fog Devils competed in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League from 2005 to 2008. Hockey remained dormant for a few years before the American Hockey League’s St. John’s IceCaps breathed new life into Mile One Centre for six years after that and now the Newfoundland Growlers will play in the ECHL.

And all this time all those great professional and junior players were coming through the city our university failed to muster any kind of hockey program in any way, shape or form. Aside from pro hockey alone, look at the abundance of players from the greater St John’s area and across the province that suit up every season to hit the ice.

So does it boil down to money? Or does it stack up to lack of organization? Because there is no doubt in my mind that it doesn’t have anything to do with lack of interest.

You’ll hear every excuse underneath the sun and the moon from financial to no on campus training facility, but they can’t really use that excuse anymore can they?

Where do the Memorial Seahawks men’s and women’s soccer teams play and train? Not on campus. No, they call the King George V Soccer Complex home.

But getting back to my original point there needs to be a greater partnership between the city and its organizations and the university to truly make the most out of our people, our athletes and our facilities that we have here, instead of doing things so backwards and opportunistically which is the case more often than not.

This is a dialogue that has needed to be had for too many years but has never occurred.

How many AUS and CIS championships have come and gone over the past 25 years that could have potentially been proudly represented and potentially won by a Memorial University squad?

That’s a question that can never be answered!

Enough is enough. It’s time for a change.

Where is that Newfoundland pride that we are always so noted for time and time again? It’s time for us to stop burying our heads in the sand to the issues that exist and start breaking down the walls to develop a better system that works to grow our athletes and our people to even greater heights.

Jason Pike

St. John’s

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