Seven communities have come together and announced the establishment of the Sask East Hockey League, putting a new face on senior hockey in the Parkland region.
Cal Homeniuk, Canora organizer, said Canora’s team will be called the Cobras, a name familiar to local fans from the years when the Cobras competed in the Fishing Lake Hockey League, which folded after the 2014/15 season, according to information found online. The Cobras were members of the league through the 2011/2012 season.
After nearly a decade without senior hockey in Canora, Homeniuk felt the time was right for a new beginning.
“Lots of people have been saying we should get a new senior hockey league started,” said Homeniuk. “The announcement in May that the Triangle Hockey League (THL) was dissolving was a contributing factor. We wanted to keep senior hockey alive in east-central Saskatchewan.”
Homeniuk said there were numerous players from Canora and surrounding area who had been playing in the THL and had expressed interest in continuing their senior hockey careers closer to home.
“They would love to play in their hometown rink, in front of family and friends,” said Homeniuk. “We felt bringing back the Cobras name would be a nice connection to past teams for the fans.”
An organizational meeting for the Cobras is planned for July 23 in Canora, with the location to be announced. Homeniuk said he is looking to serve as manager, but there will be a variety of opportunities for local residents to show support and get involved with their new team.
“We will be looking to set up a team executive, find a coach for the Cobras, someone for promotions and a group of support volunteers.”
The new league was spearheaded by organizations in Ituna, Canora, and Rocanville; three communities that had been without senior hockey in recent years, according to a release.
Ituna iced a Provincial team last season and was looking for a means to keep its local group together long term. Canora has seen a recent influx of area players suit up on other clubs and felt the time was right to return senior to their town. Rocanville has dealt with dwindling player options in the past, but after taking this past season off to regroup, organizers feel a competitive team can be iced in 2021.
Upon learning of potential interest, a further meeting was held on June 24 and the new league was created with teams in Canora, Ituna, Rocanville, Esterhazy, Bredenbury, Theodore, and Hudson Bay.
Mike Stackhouse of Yorkton was named league president.
Announcements with regards to a league schedule and the remainder of the league executive will be made in the coming weeks. Despite the recent COVID-19 pandemic, plans will be based on an early November start date, stated the release.
Homeniuk said they are looking to add at least one more team, or more if there is interest. The next league meeting is being planned for later on in July to set up a constitution, decide on rules for import/non-import players, and address other issues of importance to the new league.