The first season for the new West Coast Senior Hockey League wrapped up this weekend, and the league's president says it was more successful than organizers imagined.
More than 2,000 fans filled the Stephenville Dome Friday night to watch the Corner Brook Royals take home the league championship with a 10-4 win over the hometown Jets.
Now that the six-week season has come to an end, league president Dennis Waterman said organizers are already looking ahead to the possibility of a second season.
Waterman said initially they expected between 500 and 700 fans per game, but knew they were on to something when more than 1,500 people were showing up for nearly every game in Corner Brook, Deer Lake, Stephenville and Port aux Basques.
"It's just fantastic and amazing to see people out and wanting to see local hockey," Waterman told the Corner Brook Morning Show on Monday.
"We listened to what fans were saying. They had enough of import hockey, they didn't want Sunday games and they wanted a price that was reasonable from a family perspective."
Less is more
Waterman credits at least part of the success of the season to the fact that ticket prices were so low, which was doable because of low costs due to no overnight transportation expenses and the players not getting paid.
Another big factor, he said, is that each community only hosted one game per week.
"I think one game a week is really what whets the appetite so you don't get too used to too much hockey," he said. "I think everybody thinks that's one of the main factors — there wasn't an over exposure to hockey."
Looking ahead to next year, Waterman said there is interest from at least two other communities to join the league. He said the one-game-a-week rule will factor into that decision, but that's something the planning committee will look at when it holds its next annual meeting.
He said some of the rules and scheduling issues will need to be modified too, and there's even talk of somehow tying the league into the provincial Herder tournament.
"It's a good possibility," Waterman said. "Whether it happens next year or maybe the year after that."