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Big changes for senior hockey for upcoming season

Kerrobert and Luseland will now be part of a new senior men's hockey league starting up for the 2023-24 season.

UNITY — The Sask. West Hockey League is losing a longtime team from their league as the Kerrobert Tigers have decided to join the new four-team league being formed that will include Kerrobert Tigers, Luseland Mallards, Dodsland Stars and a new Kindersley team.

Dodsland Stars were set to join the Sask. West Hockey League for the upcoming senior men’s hockey season but have since decided to migrate to this new league.

“Dodsland senior hockey hasn’t had a local Stars team since 2008,” team manager Ryan Neumeier said in initial intervie.

“SWHL seemed like a better fit for us due to travel reasons. It’s a tough league and it will be hard for us to be competitive the first year, but we have to start somewhere. “

The Dodsland Stars team was dominant in the early 2000s playing in the Sask. Valley Hockey League, winning four consecutive championships from 2000-04.

The Luseland Mallards announced Aug. 3 that they would be returning to the senior hockey circuit. The social media announcement stated the Mallards would be one of the four founding teams of a new league. Community members quickly commented through social media on their enthusiasm for once again supporting a senior hockey team in Luseland, and the opportunity to watch Mallards games at their hometown arena.

Darrell Kraft, coach of the Luseland Mallards, says while the league has no official name yet, they are working on it. The executive is also looking to complete their roster.

Sam Sommerville, league president says, “I was approached by some guys with talks coming into place in February. I am going to be the new league president, for now.”

Sommerville said talks revolved around teams and games offering more of a hometown atmosphere. He feels this league is doing the right thing as it will get younger players playing competitive hockey again. Perhaps the new league will have some of the older, local guys playing longer.

The cost of running senior hockey teams has only grown and fans appreciate more local players on their community teams. While Sommerville said the constitution is still being finalized it looks as though players no higher than Junior B level will be able to play in this new league.

As of press time, the current SWHL president had not been reached for comment.

Brad Murphy manager of Kerrobert Tigers says, “This idea has been kicked around for a little while. I was contacted if the Tigers wanted to become part of it.”

“Geographically, we are all sitting close to each other, so it is a good fit for our team and a good fit for our town as it gets more local guys back playing. There is not a lot of downsides to it,” adds Murphy.

Murphy also notes there was no negativity received from their decision to move from SWHL to new league and in fact, the SWHL was very understanding of their situation and where the Tigers have been without a lot of success, although they wished the Kerrobert team would stay.

The Tigers say playing in this new league might lead to some weekday games but will eliminate double-game weekends, which was a big commitment for some players. Murphy feels it opens the doors to community rinks to get local players on local teams and more people to games that might not be able to come on weekends due to work and child activity commitments.

Rules are covered by the governing body of Hockey Sask. and Kerrobert will build the organization group themselves. Murphy will continue as manager and Ryan Schell will continue as head coach. The roster is starting to set up and even though, the team knows they may lose some good imports, they feel they will be able to replace them with some quality local guys who want to play something more competitive than recreational hockey.

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