With the curtain about to be raised on the 2013-2014 season the Carillon Senior Hockey League has said good-bye to two teams and welcomed another back to the fold.
The bad news - the Niverville Clippers and Mitchell Mohawks advised the league they would be taking a leave of absence. The good news - the Grunthal Red Wings are back.
The Clippers joined the CSHL in 2010 and lost out to the Steinbach Huskies in the league final. Niverville won it all the following season thanks to a four-game sweep of the La Broqurie Habs. Last season the Clippers were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Steinbach.
The Mohawks were one of the original three teams along with the Landmark Dutchmen and Ste. Anne Aces when the Carillon Senior Hockey League was formed in the fall of 2003. Mitchell won the first two CSHL championships and took its first leave of absence in 2008. The team returned in 2011. The Mohawks departure from the league is a big blow to hockey fans in Mitchell as they won’t have a senior team or a junior team to cheer for this season. The Mohawks took a leave of absence from the Hanover-Tache Junior Hockey League last year and will not put a team on the ice this season.
"Mitchell was struggling for players last spring so that didn't come as a 100% surprise," said CSHL President Ray Laing. "When Niverville announced they didn't have enough players committed - that came as a shock."
The Red Wings joined the CSHL in year two and left in 2007. The time is obviously right for Grunthal to return to senior hockey as the Wings won three of the last six HTJHL titles.
"Grunthal has had a successful junior program for the last number of years and won a couple championships," Laing said. "I think the core of players is there and with losing Niverville and Mitchell this season, Grunthal is a good fit."
The six returning teams include Steinbach, La Broquerie, Ste. Anne, the St. Malo Warriors, Springfield 98’s and the Red River Wild.
"We have a good foundation," said Laing. "St. Malo has had a team forever. Red River won the championship last year and they have a good core of players. La Broquerie has junior players coming up and Ste. Anne and Springfield look good this year. The league's in good shape."
The CSHL’s 11th season will begin on Thursday, October 24th when the defending champion Wild face the Warriors in St. Malo.