The Central/West Senior Hockey League is a senior level hockey league based in the central and western parts of the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The league was formed in June of 2014 when four of the six members of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League withdrew from the league on June 1st. The two teams that did not withdraw were from the eastern portion of the island and had previously joined from the Avalon East Senior Hockey League when the NSHL was formed.
The Clarenville Caribous hosted the 2015 Allan Cup and automatically qualified as host. The Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts automatically qualified for the tournament as Quebec had no teams registered at the Senior AAA level and traditionally the open spot goes to a team from the host branch. This also eliminated the need for an Atlantic region playoff with the New Brunswick based Lameque Au Ptit Mousse for the region's birth in the Allan Cup tournament. With being deemed the Herder Memorial Trophy champions the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts will be the province's representative for the Atlantic regional championship (against the Lameque Au Ptit Mousse) for qualification for the 2016 Allan Cup being held in Steinbach, Manitoba.
The league was renamed to the Newfoundland & Labrador Senior A Hockey League from the Central/West Senior Hockey League on August 14, 2015.
On September 20, 2015 upon completion of their fall meeting Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador announced that two leagues had been approved for the 2015-16 playing season, Avalon East Senior Hockey League and the NLSAHL. The two league champions will complete for the Herder Memorial Trophy and a berth as the provinces representative for the Atlantic regional championship for qualification for the 2017 Allan Cup which was originally scheduled held in Kenora, Ontario and then later re-awarded to Bouctouche, New Brunswick and eventually negating the need for the qualifier. The tournament had the two league champions play a best-of-five series to determine the winner. The champion of the NLSAHL will host games one and two on March 19 and 20, 2016. The Avalon East League champion will game 3 on March 25th and if needed games 4 and 5 on March 26 and 27. The release announcing the playoff also stated that "The Avalon East winning team will be permitted six (6) strengthening players from their own league for Herder competition." The Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts would go on to win the 2017 Allan Cup.
The Gander Flyers reportedly folded on January 28, 2017. However, the other members of the league managed to work out an agreement to cancel the balance of the regular season games and have them be forfeited to the Flyers opponents and the league moved on to the playoffs. The future of the league is and senior hockey in that region of the island is seriously in doubt as the 2016-17 season ends.
2017-18 and the futureEdit
Bryan Blackmore , who represents the Cataracts on the League Executive, was the Tournament Co-Coordinator for this year's Cats Golf Event and during closing remarks at the golf event confirmed that there is still no fourth team in place to expand the make-up of the League. At its AGM in June, expanding to four teams was a stated objective by the League and its current three teams in order to be able to continue operation of the League for the 2017-2018 Season.
With the financial issues that occured last season in the operations of both the Caribous and Flyers, getting matters on a more stable footing in the League was a central point of discussion at the League AGM that was specifically tied in with the unanimous view of all that the three teams could not operate successfully with only three teams. Blackmore noted that the Cataracts have been fortunate to continue to have committed and regular large fan attendance at its games and to be the League's most stable team financially. But the same has not been true of the other various League teams over recent years. For continuance of the CWSHL every team in the League needs secure,adequate financial budgeting and a prudent operational plan.
In that context all teams agreed during the League AGM a few weeks ago to cut their hockey budgets significantly to ease the pressure on the two teams who last year experienced cash flow operational problems. All agreed such an adjustment would also give a new impetus - because of lower more manageable costs - to encourage League expansion into other hockey centres. Adding a fourth team to the three team set up that had to be put in place last season when Corner Brook Royals folded is seen by all current teams as essential if the League is to continue.
Expanding to at least four teams was also pressed as essential because of the scheduling problems that are bluntly inherent in the limited three team League configuration. Maintaining continuity of games to protect and keep fan interest was sorely taxed last season with one of the three teams having to be "off" every second weekend. There was also the complicating issue of having too long a time interruption between when teams had Home games. At least once during the schedule there was a gap of five weeks between Homes games for each of the three teams. This was not helpful at all to making sure there is "regular" entertainment for loyal fans. "Hockey for fans" who want good entertainment has been at the very centre of the version of Senior hockey "off the Avalon" in the CWSHL. The League has been committed first and foremost to providing entertainment for fans in the various communities served by the teams in the League. Providing a game for players flows from that goal.... not the other way around - which is famously what the primary purpose often publicly stated by "founding" individuals and team "operators" is in the other main senior hockey League in the province.
According to Blackmore,in his update, there is still plenty of time to pull it all together. There has been to this date one direct inquiry to the League for details on how to enter the League. Dealing with the many details at issue, including player availability, specific operational costs like player pay and travel and accomodation budgets and possible Draft factors have all been part of the initial inquiry and review process. But, time is running in the view of Blackmore and the many factors still very uncertain in getting a fourth team in place give signifiant urgency as to whether it can all be in place in order for the CWSHL to ice teams for 2017-2018.
For 2016 the champion competed against and defeated the Avalon East Senior Hockey League champions (St. John's Capitals) for the Herder Memorial Trophy and a spot in the 2017 Atlantic Canada Allan Cup Qualifier which was not needed due to the 2017 Allan Cup being held in Bouctouche, New Brunswick. The Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts would directly qualify for the tournament and go on to win the Allan Cup.
The 2017 champions lost in the 2017 Herder Memorial Trophy to the Harbour Grace Cee Bee Stars 3 games to 2 with the final game being determined on a controversial goal that led to the game being protested and the protest being denied. The Clarenville Caribous may still participate in the 2018 Atlantic Canada Allan Cup Qualifier as Harbour Grace has indicated they may not participate at the Senior AAA level for 2017-18.