The return of the West Coast Senior Hockey League has been met with fervour, as fans flock by the thousands to see games by the Deer Lake Red Wings, Corner Brook Royals, Stephenville Jets and Port aux Basques Mariners.
Roslynn West has been a fan of the Corner Brook Royals for 40 years. Speaking with the Corner Brook Morning Show, she said the excitement on the street is palpable.
"Everywhere you go in Corner Brook, everyone is talking hockey."
Stephenville Jets fan Genny Duffenais said the return of the league has rejuvenated the local love for the sport.
"The rumble is insane in Stephenville," she said. "Hockey is back. The stands were full — it was just like the good old days."
She said her doubts about her team's ability to perform after years off the ice quickly vanished.
"At first I was a little hesitant because it's been a long time since some of the boys were on the ice, but the first game was outstanding. It was hard-core hockey. The boys brought their A-game. We're all truly proud."
Roslynn West had equal praise for the Royals.
"They're energetic, they're excited, they're hometown boys and they're playing with heart and they're playing to win," she said. "They want to see the Herder Trophy come back to Corner Brook."
Hometown talent key
With attendance strong and sales of 50/50 tickets and merchandise hot, things look promising for the future of the league. After the last iteration of the league folded due to financial woes, both Duffenais and West said local talent is the key to fostering strong teams and fan support.
"The guys we have here now, they're all local guys. They have to face their friends and family. If they lose a game they're held accountable," West told the Corner Brook Morning Show.
West didn't seem to think losing would be a problem when the Royals face-off against the Jets at the Corner Brook Civic Centre on Friday. Her parting words to rival fan Duffenais:
"I look forward to seeing you tonight after we beat you guys — go Royals go," she said.