SPRINGDALE, NL —Springdale has a senior hockey team.
A core group of hockey players from Springdale sported jerseys from another town to play in the Central Senior Intermediate Hockey League in recent years, but that comes to an end this season.
“Five of us played for the Northeast Sabres (Baie Verte) the last two years,” said Keith Noble, a player and team representative.
“After beating back and forth there, where home games were still sort of away games … we had a team here anyway, so we thought it would work.”
Part of the effort came from the realization that people of Springdale are thirsty for a hockey team to call their own. About 500 people were coming out to support the Braves in their quest for the Green Bay Cup — a recreational tournament against rivals from Green Bay South — and players and organizers believe even more fans would come to watch them play an even higher level of hockey.
Noble believes the team will be competitive from the outset. He said the team will feature a couple of the league’s top players, and its goaltending should be among the best too. The roster will have some regulars from the Braves of recent years, along with additions throughout the Green Bay area and some friends from other towns in central Newfoundland.
The Springdale Braves will make a fifth team in the league. Their season opener is scheduled for Saturday in Lewisporte against the Seahawks, while their home opener will be Nov. 18 against the Exploits Blades out of Grand Falls-Windsor.
There are 16 regular season games for each team between the opener later this month and Feb. 11. Then, the hope is for a long playoff run for the hometown crowd, according to Noble.
“Baie Verte has won it the last two years, so we are hoping to take that away from them now,” he said.
Noble says it has been a long time since senior hockey has been played in Springdale. He never had the opportunity to watch it, but has heard stories from some of the veterans at the rink. He said there is an excitement around town about the team’s return.
“The big things is it will be something for the people of the town to do,” he said. “Get out on the town Saturday night to watch a game of hockey and bring the family to the rink Sunday. It will be a big step for all the businesses in Springdale too. You have six or seven weekends of teams coming into town.”
Noble said local fans who enjoyed recent Green Bay Cup action certainly won’t be disappointed in the on-ice product. There is no “body contact,” but the senior hockey game can still be intense and feature some rough play – including some fights, known to be popular among the fan base of most leagues. The skillset will feature some of the best amateur, recreational hockey players available in central Newfoundland.
While there is a buzz among fans for the season, he said the business community has also come onside to support the team.