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Doug Marshall league marks 10 years of midget hockey

The Doug Marshall Midget Hockey League turns 10 this season, but even the league’s administrative coordinator wasn’t sure it would last beyond its inaugural year.“No, to be honest with you, we weren’t sure how it would go,” said Steve Power.In fact, Power said it was touch-and-go for the first three or four years of operation, but he acknowledges the league is firmly established now and the future looks good.

The Doug Marshall Hockey League has been providing a midget hockey options to local players for 10 years.

The league is so popular these days that there isn’t room for everyone who wants to play.

“At one time, if you showed up with a hockey stick and played defence, you probably got a spot,” Power noted.

“Now we’re at the point where we cut over 50 kids last year and this year it looks to be a similar situation.”

Power said there was always a little apprehension about how the new league would work out over time.

“The Marshall family jumped on board when we were looking for a sponsor, and it’s evolved since then,” he said.

He also gave credit to former Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador president Marv Ryder.

“The first three or four years, it was like we were a pilot project with HNL to get approval. Now it’s a given that the Marshall league runs by its own.

“Back in the early days,” said Power, “there was some dissension and talk about whether or not this is the direction hockey should go in our area. Marv sort of stuck his neck out at the time and said this is a good idea, it’s best for the kids and he was supporting it.

“Just the fact we were able to bring eight minor hockey associations together at a time when no one had worked together before was a big accomplishment,” according to Power.

The midget A division championship trophy is now named the Marv Ryder Memorial Trophy.

Power said the league has developed beyond his expectations.

So why has it become so successful?

“Well,” Power said, “a lot of kids still just want to play hockey. We don’t make it out to be anything more than it is, and that is a competitive hockey league for guys (15-, 16-, 17-years-old) who still want to play.

“If you are willing to pay thousands of dollars in fees and go to hockey camps all summer, we’re probably not the league for you. But if you want a good game of hockey, that’s well organized, this is for you.

“Kids used to come up through a certain minor hockey system such as Celtics or St. John’s and now everyone is pooled into one system, and you are playing for a team sponsor.

“You played most of your young life against someone you didn’t particularly like, and now he’s your teammate and your best buddy,” he said with a laugh.

Registration for tryouts began Friday and continue today from noon to 2 p.m. at Booth Memorial High School gymnasium.

The league begins its 10th season in late October. Each of the eight teams will play a 24-game regular season, with every team making the playoffs. Games are played in arenas in St. John’s and area.

Power revealed there a big plans for the end-of-the season banquet when former players, sponsors and guests will invited to participate in the special anniversary.

He also said there are plans in the works to have a “big” Hockey Night in Canada representative as a special guest speaker for the affair.

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