As a precursor to the 2023 “Hunt For The Herder” Playoffs announcement, it’s important to note that, following an investigation of the January 28th contest between the Harbour Grace CeeBee Stars and St. John’s Caps, the victorious Stars have relinquished their winning 2 points to the Caps, after it was ruled that the use of goaltender Claude Garland during their 4-1 win against the Capital city club was unauthorized and against league policy. Relinquishing of the points has now brought the Caps up to 31 points, thereby surpassing the Southern Shore Breakers, and clinching first place.
With the standings now finalized, and the playoffs set to get underway, the AESHL is proud to announce the beginning of this season’s Hunt For the Herder Playoffs. Having first been awarded in 1935 to the Corner Brook Royals, the Herder Memorial Trophy is perhaps the most historical and sought-after sports trophy in the province. To date, the trophy has been awarded 9 times to an AESHL representative, with the current league’s member clubs having a combined total of 30 championships. With the inclusion of the WCSHL, this season’s playoffs will mark the first time since 2008 that a primarily east coast team will play a primarily west coast team for the iconic trophy, with the last series being competed between the Conception Bay North CeeBee Stars (now the Harbour Grace CeeBee Stars) and the Deer Lake Red Wings. With the playoffs kicking off this Friday, the 24th of February, the first round will include the bottom 4 teams of our league contesting in the format of a best 2 out of 3 series. The 3rd place Clarenville Caribous will pin up against the last place 6th seed Outer Cove Marines, while the 4th seed CeeBee Stars will compete against the 5th seed CB Blues. The victors of each series will then move into a best 4 out of 7 Semi-Finals, expected to start March 3rd. The higher-ranked team will play the St. John’s Caps, while the lower-ranked team will play against the Southern Shore Breakers, who both got a bye into the second round for placing in the top 2 spots of this year's regular season standings. The eventual winners of the Second Round series will then clash in a best 4 out of 7 AESHL finals, pencilled in for March 24th, with the Joe Maynard Avalon East Championship Trophy up for grabs.
Once an AESHL champion is crowned, they will compete against the WCSHL Cliff Gorman Memorial Cup Champion in an exciting best 4 out of 7 classic Herder Memorial Trophy Final. The series is expected to begin on April 14th with the first 2 games being contested on the West Coast, before shifting to the East for the next 3, and if necessary, shifting back to the West for the final 2.
The AESHL is excited to get underway with the 84th annual Herder playoffs and hopes to see as many senior hockey fans come out to see this season’s historic event.