The days are getting shorter, there’s a chill in the air, and the leaves are slowly finding their way from branches to the street – and that can only mean one thing – the hockey season just around the corner. In just a few short weeks, the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts will soon be hitting the ice along with the rest of the teams in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League.
Their first game is scheduled for Oct. 20 in Harbour Grace against the Conception Bay North CeeBees. The Cataracts will be stepping on to home ice for the first time this season on October 27, and will be taking on the league’s newest team – the Gander Flyers.
After a long summer of fundraising, executive member changes, and Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador changes to the league, Cataracts President Bryan Blackmore said it’s shaping up to be a good season.
Last week, the Cataracts held their annual golf fundraiser at the Grand Falls Golf Club, and according to Blackmore, it was quite a successful day, despite it taking place later in the year than normal.
“We were thinking hockey even though we were playing golf,” he said. Blackmore added the turnout was great, and they took in over $7,000 at the event.
The Cataracts also made an important announcement at the event; they told attendees that BC native Shane Lukinchuk would be replacing Brian Casey as head coach this year. Blackmore said they’re still finalizing some details about who will be assistant coaches to Lukinchuk, but said the announcement will be coming soon.
And according to Blackmore, it’s much more than the coaching staff that’s taking shape. He said the executive had a pretty good idea about which players will be showing up at the Cataracts training camp in mid October.
Aside from the two players the Cats announced they had picked up from trade with Gander earlier this summer, forward Ryan Graham and defenseman Brad Yetman, there are a number of both returning and new faces that are looking good for the 2012/13 season.
Blackmore said goaltender A.J. Whiffen will be returning, and have drafted another young goaltender, Cory Keats, to try out. He said former goalie Mark Yetman may not be playing this season.
Three imports also have indicated they’d like to play with the Cataracts this season, and they’re all familliar faces for fans. Blackmore said Martin Lapointe, Matt Quinn, and Tyler Whitehead will likely be returning to the ice. A new HNL rule has set three as the maximum number of imports for any team in the league.
“Nick Theriault looks like he won’t be returning, and he’s been with us a few years,”
Forwards Andre Gill, Mike Sibley, Brandon Nicholas, and Wes Welcher are expected to return, according to Blackmore, as well as defensemen Mike Brent and Greg Hoffe.
“We’ve also drafted a few new players. Brad Mills and Scott Cantwell on defense, and Danny Evans, who is a forward,” he said. “So we have some promising new faces and some pretty good ones from the past.”
Blackmore said fans will have a chance to schmooze with some of the players at a Cataracts sports auction and gala that’s set to take place later this fall, with dates yet to be announced.
“That’s a great event because it gives the players a chance to connect with the community, which is important,” he said.
To keep up to date on Cataracts announcements, check out their Facebook page, or visit their website at www.gfwcataracts.com.