CANORA - The Canora Cobras senior hockey team is getting ready for the new season in the Sask East Hockey League filled with plenty of excitement and anticipation, as the league has doubled in size from five to ten teams.
“Our fans can expect a hardworking group,” said Cal Homeniuk, Canora general manager, about the Cobras. “We don’t have any superstars, but as long as we have four lines show up for every game, we plan to be very competitive.”
The new teams in the league this year include the Swan Valley Axemen and Grandview Comets, formerly of the Manitoba North Central Hockey League (which is taking a one-year hiatus). Other newcomers are the: Cote Selects, Langenburg Warriors and Wapella Blackhawks.
Teams will play a home-and-home schedule against each of the other nine teams in comprising the 18-game regular season, a significant increase from last season’s 12 games per team.
Two divisions were formed for playoff purposes. The first-place team in each division will play the fourth place team in a best-of-three first-round series while second plays third. The fifth place team in each division will miss the playoffs. Division finals will also be a best-of-three, and the league championship series for the Emile Balogh Trophy will be a best-of-five.
Canora, Swan Valley, Grandview, Cote, and Theodore Buffalos will make up the North Division. The South Division has the defending league champion Rocanville Tigers, Langenburg, Ituna Avalanche, Whitewood Orioles, and Wapella.
Homeniuk said the Cobras are returning over half of the players from last year’s team, and the majority of this year’s roster is made up of local talent.
“We’re adding player names to the backs of the jerseys so the fans can easily identify their favourites.”
Homeniuk is expecting last year’s league finalists, Rocanville and Theodore, to once again ice strong teams, as well as the newcomers from Swan Valley and Langenburg.
“It’s hard to know a lot about any of the teams at this point, since no one is putting out their rosters sooner than they have to, just to keep everyone guessing,” said Homeniuk.
Darren Schwarz is the Canora new head coach for the coming season, and Dean Wilgosh is taking over as team president. In addition to Homeniuk, other members of the executive are: Casey Mydonick, vice-president; Brandi Zavislak, secretary; and Clarissa Mydonick, treasurer.
The team is looking for volunteers in a number of areas, including: clock operator, playing music during games, 50/50, scoresheet, working at the bar, and ticket takers.
Season tickets are available from the players or at Community Insurance.
The Cobras will open the new season with a two games on the road; Nov. 11 at Whitewood, and then the following evening in Rocanville.
The home opener will be on Nov. 19 at the Canora Civic Centre, with the Cote Selects providing the opposition.