(November 7, 2022) Senior hockey returned to the arenas in Eastern Newfoundland on Friday November 4th with 2 games played in the Avalon East Senior Hockey League. The League's 55th season kicked off on Friday evening with last season’s first place team the St. John’s Rooftech Senior Caps outlasting the Outer Cove Marines 4-3 in an exciting contest. The Marines are returning to senior hockey after almost two decades away, replacing the Northeast Senior Eagles in the 6-team circuit. Also, on Friday evening, the Conception Bay Baker Flooring Blues beat the Clarenville Ford Caribous 4-2 in their home opener at the CBS Arena. On Saturday, action moved to the Danny Cleary Centre in Harbour Grace where the hometown Harbour Grace Ocean Enterprises CeeBee Stars faced the Blues. The CeeBees opened their season with a 10-2 win over the Blues while at the Goulds Arena the Sr. Caps opened at home against the Caribous with a 6-5 overtime win. On Sunday, the Southern Shore Puglisevich Senior Breakers played host to the Outer Cove Marines at the Ken Williams Memorial Arena. The Breakers walked away with a 4-1 win over the Marines.
The Avalon East Senior Hockey League has entered its 55th regular season with a 60-game schedule. All teams will play 10 home and 10 road games this season. The return of the Outer Cove Marines will add lots of excitement at the Jack Byrne Arena of Friday nights. Also, new this year are back to back two game weekends in Clarenville.
Once again, this season will end with the excitement of Herder competition in the spring. Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador are still exploring the potential for a senior hockey league in Western Newfoundland. If a senior league gets started in Western Newfoundland there may be an East/West Herder in April 2023. Otherwise, the Herder will be awarded to the AESHL Champion.
The defending Herder Champion Puglisevich Southern Shore Breakers welcome back former St. John’s Icecap Josh Lunden as head coach. Herder Champion goaltender, Mark Yetman, is back between the pipes, with veteran defensemen Daniel Dalton and newcomer James O’Brien anchoring the defence. Up front, the Breakers have a lot of experience led by Team Captain Jeremy Nicholas along with Herder MVP Keenan Kennedy. Supporting the veteran forwards is graduating junior player Brendan Houlihan. In looking ahead to the new season General Manager Ian Sullivan says “After winning the Herder last season the boys are anxious to start a dynasty with a repeat come April”. Expect the Breakers to be fighting for first place throughout the season in preparation for a deep playoff run.
Behind the bench for the St. John’s Rooftech Sr. Caps will be Scott Bray as head coach. Scott is being assisted again this season by Pat O’Keefe. Last season’s top goaltender Kyle Downer is back for another season supported by a strong defensive core lead by Pat O'Keefe Junior and Pat Parfrey. Up front Kyle McGrath who is coming off a strong 2021/2022 MVP season along with Rookie of the Year Matthew Smith should provide a lot of the offense. According to Team President Seamus O’Keefe “the RoofTech Sr. Caps enter this year with a sense of unfinished business after putting up a 15 win and 1 loss regular season last year and then losing in 7 games to the Caribous. This should help focus the team in the early going.” Expect the Caps to finish near the top in the standings come playoff time.
The Clarenville Ford Caribous have started a rebuilding process and have a number of younger players in their lineup this season. In net the Caribous will be strong with veteran AJ Whiffen expected to carry most of the load. Veteran defenseman Justin Pender will anchor the ‘Bous defence while the veteran presence of the Reid brothers, Kevin and Mason, along with veteran Chad Earle will steady the young additions up front. Clarenville Ford Caribous General Manager Ivan Hapgood feels “the team has a good mix of young speed and veteran experience to keep us in the hunt so we expect to be in the mix again come playoff time.”
The Conception Bay Baker Flooring Blues head into the new season under the guidance of Head Coach and General Manager Jonathan Kavanagh. Kavanagh had a busy off season acquiring veteran defensemen Nick Lindstrom and Dylan Sheldon as well as forwards Liam Myers and Brandon Bussey. Returning up front for the Blues Danny Wicks, Chad Thompson, Tyler Nickson and high scoring Captain Kyle Tibbo. Joining them up front is rookie Nick Gosse, a high scoring graduate of the Junior Renegades. In goal, Matt Jenkins and Redmond Hunt will share the Blues crease, both have plenty of experience and should provide the Blues with a chance to win every night. "During the off season we made a number of moves to improve what we already believe was a good team. We are excited to get going and see how those moves will pay off" says Kavanagh. Expect the Blues to be a very tough team to play against come playoff time.
The Harbour Grace Ocean Enterprises CeeBee Stars are excited about the 2022-2023 season after a very busy off season. Through a block buster trade with the Caribous the CeeBee Stars traded defencemen Nick Lidstrom, Andrew Antle and goalie Zac Gauvreau to Clarenville for CeeBee alums Keith Delaney, Chris Sparkes and Mike Dyke. General Manager Mike McCarthy believes “the addition of these veteran players with graduating junior star players Kyle Tetford and Mason Oates will ensure the mix of youth and experience in the CeeBee Stars lineup will be a formula that leads t more wins this season”. The CeeBee Stars have a new coaching staff adding Andrew Tobin of Marystown, Herder winning and long time Ceebees coach Ian Moores and two time Herder champion and native of Harbourr Grace Daniel Sparkes. Expect some exciting hockey at the Daniel Cleary Centre this season.
Returning to the league this season are the Outer Cove Marines. The Marines are being led by James and Daniel Cadigan who are both proud to be wearing the Marine’s colours in honour of their father the great Ron Cadigan. Both James and Daniel were added to the Marines roster by trade from the Breakers. Back are a number of experienced senior players who were disbursed to the other teams last season including Tyler Bennett and Chris Blackwood. The Marines also picked up experienced player Brandon O’Neill by trade from the Blues. Tom Beckett, General Manager of the Marines is excited about the possibilities ahead for the team. “The Outer Cove Marines organization recognizes the pride and support from the Cape St. Francis region, and we are honoured to have the opportunity to represent our communities in the Avalon East Senior Hockey League. We look forward to building upon this foundation, making new memories, and supporting youth throughout our communities.” You can expect Outer Cove to surprise the other teams and with strong fan support will be a threat come playoff time.
Current AESHL league and team information, including the 2022-2023 season schedule, can be found on its website at www.aeshl.com, or by following on twitter @aeshl.
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