SPRINGDALE, NL — There is an excitement surrounding the Springdale Braves, and some curiosity, as the newest team in the Central Senior Intermediate Hockey League prepares for its opening games.
T.J. Johanson led the Braves to a pair of Green Bay Cup victories in the past two years over their rival Green Bay South Combines, and helped the Northeast Sabres to the past two league titles. Johanson is hoping to see continued success on the ice as the Braves embark on this latest challenge.
However, he is staying realistic in his expectations for the expansion club.
In the five-team league — Springdale Braves, Northeast Sabres, Lewisporte Seahawks, Exploits Blades and Twillingate Combines — one team doesn’t make the playoffs. Johanson hopes the Braves avoid that dubious distinction. As they grow throughout the season, a playoff berth of any seed would give the Braves a chance at a title run, he said.
To start the season, Springdale is on the road for a pair of games against Lewisporte Saturday and Sunday.
Johanson said the Seahawks will be a tough first test for the Braves, so the team must be disciplined to have any success.
“If you complicate things, you tend to not do your job. If everybody can do their job, keep things simple, that’s usually a good start.”
Getting on the ice and officially kicking off the season is the first step.
“With the new team, everybody is anxious to start,” Johanson said. “There are five of us that played previously with the (Northeast) Sabres, so we know what to expect. But, for a lot of the guys on the team it is all new to them, so it should be interesting and a lot of fun.”
Johanson is excited to suit up for his hometown team and play in front of hometown crowds with family and friends when the team kicks off its home schedule on the Nov. 18 weekend.
“It’s a comfort level, for most of us,” he said. “Most of us are family people, and we have kids we are chasing around hockey, and jobs and all that stuff. This is just a past time for most of us, but we still like to be competitive.”