There are big changes in store to what has been known as the Central Newfoundland Junior Cataracts this season.
“Where the Senior Cats are in Grand Falls-Windsor, there seems like there’s just not enough interest to support two teams,” said Junior Cats Coach Kevin Hynes. “So we (as an executive) are looking at moving the team to either Bishop’s Falls or Botwood. There is nothing in stone yet (as to) where we are moving the team, however, it is set in stone that we will be moving out of Grand Falls-Windsor.”
The executive had been approached by someone who said they would love for the team to move to Botwood, Hynes said.
“Myself, being from Bishop’s Falls, and knowing the people really well and knowing the town, I think that I could make it work in Bishop’s Falls, but now it would all depend again on sponsors,” he added.
By the end of January last season, the team would only practice out of Grand Falls-Windsor, Hynes said, and never played games there.
“We started playing all of our games in Triton because we were getting less than 50 fans per game, so we weren’t even making enough off the door from the fans to pay for our ice time and referees,” Hynes said. “A team just can’t work that way.”
Along with the move, there is also going to be a name change.
“If we went out to Bishop’s Falls it would probably go back to the Junior Express, because that’s their history,” Hynes said. “And the history with Botwood I believe is the Blades. So if we went to Botwood, we would ask the Town of Botwood if they would want us to be the Junior Blades first, obviously, and then whatever company was going to be our primary sponsor, if they have any sort of relations or ties with any certain name, and then we can just take it from there.”
Last season, he said, even though the team played out of Grand Falls-Windsor and were called the Junior Cats, it was the Central Newfoundland Junior Cats, and this year’s team will still be a central Newfoundland team.
“In the junior league it doesn’t really matter about region when you get your players,” Hynes said. “There’s no draft per say, it’s just people that have signed with teams would need to get releases to play with other teams, but there is no restrictions on where players can play.”
Hynes said right now they are waiting to find out when the stadiums are putting their ice down to see what ice time they can get for the start of the season, and then mid-September to the beginning of October they will start having serious tryouts, as the season for junior doesn’t start until the end of October.
“I know I have probably 10 or 12 (athletes) that played with the Junior Cats and then moved away for whatever reason and are back this year, so I’m expecting to have a much stronger, much more committed and dedicated team this year than I did last year,” Hynes said, adding he wasn’t asked to coach the team last year until just days before the first tryout.
This year, he said, he has a jumpstart on the season.
“We were sort of playing catch up all last year,” Hynes said. “We made it work as well as we could, but there’s definitely stuff that we learned from last year that we won’t replicate this year.”
And he expects the number of players on the roster to be much better than last year, since he now has more contacts.
“I have been talking to a few players that have played on other teams within the league that are going to be coming in our way because of a few really good players that I have coming back to the team such as Brandon Inder and Mike Vaters, who are phenomenal junior hockey players, then you match them up with Chris Compton and Nathan Mitchell and Marcus Sampson, people I have returning from last year’s team and we should be pretty strong,” Hynes said, adding Jared King, Travis Champion, Matt Penney, Brandon Dormody, Corey Brent, Josh Randell, Brady Winsor and Mckenzie Roberts will also be all returning. “I know that there’s guys who want to come to a team that’s actually going to compete, especially the guys that are getting into their second, third or fourth year in junior, they want to sort of win a title before their junior careers are over, and I guess the rumour is that I’m starting to put together a good squad.”
All this said, Hynes sends out huge thanks to those who supported the team last year, with special thanks to Gene Faulkner from Molson for his continued and invaluable sponsor of the team
“I also wanted to express our thanks to the fans and sponsors that cheered us on and supported us last season,” Hynes said. “Without fans and sponsors our team wouldn't have been a possibility.”
Any junior age players who may be new to the region, or wanting to come back to the region, can contact Hynes at email@example.com.