After two years with the Central IcePak, Jeffery Fewer was hoping he’d get to finish his last year in the Major Midget league with his home team.
However, the team has folded due to lack of players, leaving Fewer wondering where he will play hockey.
“It would have been nice to get that third year,” says the 17-year-old. “It’s super disappointing, but it’s all you can do.”
The player from Grand Falls-Windsor can understand why it happened.
The team didn’t have the best run last year with three wins, 25 losses, one shootout loss and three overtime losses.
Given the level of commitment required of high school students – two practices per week in Lewisporte and a 32-game season – the travel involved, he says, likely dissuaded players from returning for another season. The team’s recruitment area ranges from Baie Verte to Glovertown.
“It’s hard to commit so much to it,” he says.
Fewer has the option try out for another Major Midget team, but it would require four hours of travel, adding it’s a similar predicament for his teammates.
If he decides against Major Midget hockey this year, however, Jeffery says he’ll still play high school hockey, and can still play minor midget.
“I’m not sure what I’m going to be doing this year, I guess it depends on when the time comes,” he says.
IcePak coach Shane Lukinchuk says low turnouts for tryouts was the telltale sign there would be no Major Midget hockey in central Newfoundland this season. There just weren’t enough players for a 20-player roster.
While seasoned players such as Jeffery were committed to returning to play, he says, first-year recruits were low. These players were needed to replace those who had completed the program the previous season.
Lukinchuk says each player and their parents have their individual reasons for not entering or coming back to the league, such as travel or the commitment required.
Ultimately, he says, “It just boiled down to not enough players to proceed with the camp.
“After trying to recruit and source out new players, it just seemed like the interest level wasn’t there.”
What it means for the Central IcePak moving forward, Lukinchuk couldn’t say.
“I just hope the interest level is there within the next couple of years and central will be able house a major midget team again,” he says. “Because it is important to a lot of people; hopefully it can correct itself.”
But the show must go on, and the Major Midget league will move forward with four teams – the Western Kings from Corner Brook, the St. John’s Maple Leafs, the East Coast Blizzard of St. John’s and the Tri Pen Osprey in Conception Bay North.
Glenn Littlejohn, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League, told The Central Voice in an Aug. 21 interview, it was unfortunate to proceed without the IcePak this season, but the league couldn’t wait any longer.
“We’re revising our schedule as we speak, it’s a four-team league now so that takes some adjustment,” he says. “All teams will be impacted travel wise and we are going through that process as we speak.”