Exciting River Kings finding their way in CIHL

In our new column, King's Corner, Joe Pelletier breaks down what's going on with the Terrace River Kings

The National Hockey League may be locked out, again, but there is still plenty of great hockey to be seen right here in Terrace

The Terrace River Kings have an exciting young team that has exhibited early promise. Through tough early competition they have shown that they have several young players that should give the River Kings a good shot this season in the Central Interior Hockey League.

Much of the excitement created is due to a revamped blue line. The defense is a very active group, often rushing the puck out of the zone, and pinching in the offensive zone. This has created some animated offensive play.

New to the blue line this year is Josh Murray. Murray’s pedigree is impressive. The third year King is a former British Columbia Hockey League star and American college graduate from the University of Alabama-Huntsville. The right winger has converted to defense, challenging himself to become an even better player. It is a fun transition to watch as once he gets the puck he still plays with a forward’s mentality. He goes on the rush and is determined to score, not unlike Paul Coffey back in the 1980s. No one tries harder than Murray.

Murray’s usual defense partner is also a joy to watch. Nick Homeniuk, a newcomer to the team, is a real talented stickhandler and strong passer. He often jumps into the attack and it is not uncommon to see both defensemen Murray and Homeniuk leading the rush into the opposition zone.

Big Jeremy Van Den Broek is more of a classic defenseman. He relies more on a strong breakout pass though he can rush the puck too. The third year King plays the point well and is already piling up the assists.

Up front the Kings are led up front by team captain Steve Cullis. Cullis is an imposing player, blessed with size and a bit of a mean streak. His shot is heavy and accurate, and he’s got a real nose for the net. He is also the Kings’ top faceoff man.

Little Rajan Sangha is a whirling dervish of a player. Every time he touches the puck he seems to create something. When he’s on his game he can be worth the price of admission. Opposing teams try to neutralize him with heavy physical play, but the spirited Sangha fights through it.

Tristan Murray, Josh’s brother, sets the compete level up front and is often the first man in to retrieve loose pucks. Cameron Kerr does his best Alex Burrows impersonation and is often under the skin of the opposition. Newcomers Kyle Holtom and Dawson Leblond have scored big goals and show promise.

Goaltender Patrick Leal has looked solid in net.

It should be an interesting season in the Central Interior Hockey League this season. Smithers and Williams Lake are the class of the league. The always tough Kitimat Ice Demons are right up there, too. Of course they are Terrace’s divisional and natural arch-rival. The Ice Demons visit Terrace on November 3rd for what is guaranteed to be a spirited rematch of their October 19th slugfest.

The Kings need to get their power play sorted out. They are just 2 for 27 with the man advantage through the first 3 games of the season. Terrace is a smaller team in a very physical league. If they can get that power play clicking they can help eliminate whatever advantage the other teams try to impose. They must also maintain better discipline. They lead the league in penalties per game.

The River Kings head off on the road for much of November. That road trip may tell us just how good of a team Terrace can be. If they can find their team play and identity along with improved special teams play, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Joe Pelletier of Terrace runs the website Greatest Hockey Legends and can be found on Twitter: @HockeyLegends.