Paradise junior Warriors looking to play with ‘pace’ this season
By Craig Westcott/September 23, 2021
Like most entry teams in any league, the Paradise Junior Warroirs had a tough go of it on the score clock during their inaugural season in the St. John’s Junior Hockey League two years ago.
Last year, their chance to build on the experience and play stronger was stolen when the league had to call off its season due to the Codvid-19 pandemic.
This year, the Paradise Warriors are hoping for better things.
“We’ll certainly be more competitive,” said Greg Barton, the team’s general manager. “We’ve got more returning kids and more kids interested in playing for us, unlike the first year where basically anybody who showed up was on the team, because we had an issue with the number of kids interested. This year we actually had a tryout and we’ve got a pretty good team.”
About 35 players turned up for the tryouts. The roster has since been pared to 24 or 25. Most of the players are graduates of the still fairly young Paradise Minor Hockey Association. The rest of the lineup is supplemented with draft choices and walk-ons who managed to make the cut.
“There are only three players (this year) who aren’t from the Paradise system,” said Barton. “We’ve got one from CBS, one from Dildo and one from Burin. The rest are from the Paradise system…. I think we’re going to be a fast team. We’re going to try to play with pace, and be hard to play against.”
Goaltending, said Barton, is expected to be one of the Warriors’ strengths.
“We’ve got a returning goalie Tyrus Fagan (from CBS) and we’ve got a new goalie from Holy Spirit High School, Ethan Kelly, who can play another four years in the league, so goaltending is certainly strong. The forward group is strong (too). They’re a bit of an older group than they have been in the past. The first year I think we dressed 15 rookies. This year we’ll have four or five rookies playing in the game, so we’ll certainly be an older and more experienced team that expects to play with a bit of pace… All four of our centremen are returning players, so that’s a big help for us. Plus, we’ve got some younger forwards with a bit of a goal scoring touch coming up through. We should be a good mix of young and old on forward that should be hard to play against.”
Defense-wise, the team is a bit on the small size, Barton admitted, but they are quick and have the ability to move the puck.
Paradise will play its home games this season on Tuesdays at the Double Ice Complex, starting at 7 p.m. Attendance is limited to 350 fans because of Covid social distancing restrictions. The first season, Paradise averaged 60 – 80 fans per game.
“I think for a lot of people, if they started going out to junior hockey, they would go to more games,” said Barton, “because they would be shocked at the level of talent that is actually around in the league.”