Senior League snippets
Early indications are the Clarenville Caribous and Conception Bay Cee-Bees will be the class of the five-team, Newfoundland Senior Hockey League.
The Caribous have become a consistent, Detroit Red Wings-like, powerhouse and will undoubtedly vie for another league title and perhaps an Allan Cup. However, the Cee-Bees will give the ’Bous fits with a star-studded line-up.
Word is coach Corey Crocker has established a no-nonsense environment during training camp in Harbour Grace. The Cee-Bees will ice a very deep contingent of forwards including Ray Dalton, Jordan Escott, Colin Escott, Robert Slaney, Keith Delaney, Ryan Delaney, Morgan Warren and Mike Thomas – most of who have played major junior or pro hockey. Thomas who captained the Saint John Sea Dogs to a Memorial Cup championship in 2011, split last season between four teams in the AHL and ECHL. On defence, the CeeBees boast Doug O’Brien, formerly of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Crocker tells me he’s particularly pleased to solve his goaltending problem by signing Charles Lavigne. The former QMJHL netminder was tutored by none other than Patrick Roy as a member of the Quebec Remparts.
A darkhorse this year may be the Grand Falls Cataracts, who have a new bench boss in Shane Lukinchuk who recently moved to Paper Town from British Columbia. Grand Falls will host a St. John’s Fog Devils reunion as former Foggies Ryan Graham and Luke Gallant join holdover Fog Devils alum Wes Welcher in Cataracts’ colours this season. Graham, a feisty forward, hopes the concussion problems that haunted him the last year or so at Acadia University are a thing of the past, while Welcher will juggle hockey with his new duties as a police officer with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Graham says Gallant -- one of the best defencemen in the Atlantic Universities Hockey Conference at the perennial-contending University of New Brunswick – will step in and become one of the top blueliners in the NSHL.
The Western Royals – formerly the Corner Brook Royals and now based in Deer Lake – made some noise this week by picking up veteran Terry Ryan in the dispersal draft of the defunct Mount Pearl Blades. Prior to folding, the Blades dealt Ryan to the CeeBees but the trade was voided by the league when the Blades ceased operations shortly thereafter. Ryan tells me had been looking forward to playing with the CeeBees but is now happy to be joining Deer Lake stalwart Darren Langdon who he calls a “respected NHL vet” and “the great fans in Deer Lake”.
Not much is known about the expansion Gander Flyers at this early stage but they made a smart move by plucking goaltender Roger Kennedy in the dispersal draft. The former Halifax Moosehead will likely see a ton of rubber in the Airport Town this winter.
Jason Morgan’s incredible 17-year professional hockey odyssey will continue this year in Prescott Valley, Arizona. The 35-year-old has signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Sundogs of the Central Hockey League. Morgan has previously played for 21 pro teams in 21 cities from Los Angeles to Stockholm.
The six-foot-one, 210-pounder collected 11 points in 29 games last season as player/assistant coach with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL.
The Conception Bay South native was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the fifth round, 118th overall at the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. He has seen NHL duty with the Kings, Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators, Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild.
In the Q
Robin Short of The Telegram recently penned a story on the 15 Newfoundlanders who cracked Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rosters. Of course, some locals did not make the cut and have found new hockey homes.
Long-time minor hockey linemates Kyle Tibbo of Conception Bay South and Liam Hynes of Paradise were recently released by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and Moncton Wildcats respectively, but have re-united on the top line of a private school midget team in Ontario. The forwards are skating with The Hill Academy, a sports-focused school, in Vaughn, Ontario. The Hill plays a 75-game schedule, mostly against American competition.
Ryan Power of Conception Bay South failed to make the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL for the second year in a row and now skates for the Miramichi Timberwolves of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League. A former member of the MJHL’s Bridgewater Lumberjacks and the Summerside Capitals – Power has now played for teams in all three Maritime provinces.
When Graham isn’t skating for the Cataracts, he’ll be behind the bench as an assistant coach of the St. John’s Privateers of the Newfoundland Major Midget Hockey League.
Dave Salter has nearly 25 years experience as sports writer for publications such as The Telegram and Halifax Daily News. He is currently a reporter for Rogers Television’s St. John’s IceCaps broadcasts, a freelancer for publications such as The Hockey News and is a part-time scout for the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL.