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Stephenville folding, Deer Lake returning for 2019-20 West Coast Senior Hockey League season

The Deer Lake Red Wings and Stephenville Jets do battle in action from the West Coast Senior Hockey League in 2017. – Randy Alexander photo
The Deer Lake Red Wings and Stephenville Jets do battle in action from the West Coast Senior Hockey League in 2017. – Randy Alexander photo - Contributed

West coast champion may go on to play for the Herder

The Deer Lake Red Wings are back in and the Stephenville Jets are out of the West Coast Senior Hockey League for this season.

Dave Bruce, public relations officer for the league, said a meeting was held Sunday to discuss the coming season.

According to Bruce, a representative for the Stephenville Jets who was at the meeting said it was in their best interest not to play this year.

He said a player shortage and financial issues were preventing them from icing a team this year, but they are determined to return to the fold next year.

Bruce said Deer Lake had a couple of good practices and are ready to go this year.

The league will start up the weekend of Nov. 22-23 and feature the same type of 12-game schedule it had last year.

The difference this year, noted Bruce, is they are going with a draft system, dropping the size of the protected list from 16 skaters and two goalies to 13 players and two goalies for each team.

Once the protected list has been submitted, anyone else who wants to play must register for the draft and subsequent players will round out the teams from that draft.

Bruce said the draft system is something they felt they had to do as a league to ensure teams are competitive.

Had it been done early last year, Bruce felt Stephenville likely would have been more competitive and had more fans out to the games.

“Had that happened, I think (Stephenville) would be in the fold this year."

Since the league came back into operation in 2017, its championship team has not played for the Herder Memorial Trophy as the province's top senior hockey team. Since the league on the east coast is also amateur with no paid players, Bruce said it’s a hope for the west coast league to play for the Herder.

“(The west coast league) would love to get back in the Herder competition,” he said.

While not definite yet, the idea is being discussed. Bruce said vying for the Herder would be meaningful to players and fans alike.

If it does transpire, the details would have to be worked out with regard to picking up extra players within the league to join the winning team in Herder play and some type of agreement would have to be struck on the number.

Bruce said representatives from the west coast will be working on that and, hopefully, it can happen.

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