Hockey fans, get out your calendars — this year’s schedule for the Terrace River Kings has been posted.
The Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) finalized and released its schedule for the 2018-2019 season at the end of August after months of waiting for teams to confirm their participation.
The Kitimat Ice Demons were the last team to finalize their entry in early, and their return ensures that all five teams from last year will be competing again in a 16-game schedule.
“We’re really happy with that,” said Ron German, president of the CIHL. “It’s great, it’s good not to lose a team.”
The River Kings season begins with their home opener on Oct. 5 against Prince Rupert. Last season, the two teams played each other evenly, going 2-2-1 on the season, including a critical 8-5 victory on Dec. 16 which helped launch the River Kings into first place in the league.
The team then hits the road to Williams Lake to take on the Stampeders on Oct. 13, looking to repeat last year’s 6-5 overtime win. The next day the River Kings take on the Quesnel Kangaroos, who they beat twice last season, stretching out their two-day road trip before returning back to home to face Williams Lake on Oct. 21. They’ll have home advantage for the next two games against the Rampage on Oct. 26 and the Kitimat Ice Demons on Nov. 3.
At the end of the regular season last year, they conquered the Ice Demons 15-2 in a blowout match on Jan. 13 at home ice and were crowned the reigning CIHL champs.
Now, the Terrace River Kings are looking for some young players and a new coach to defend the title this season.
“We don’t have a coach yet actually, we’re still struggling here to find somebody to commit,” said Ross Smith, the team’s general manager, who said this is the first time he’s seen this situation happen since he’s been involved with the league.
The season is “sneaking up fast,” Smith said, but that they’ll figure out a replacement.
“Hopefully someone will step up and take the reins, but someone will. We always make it work.”
Last year’s coach Derek Jurista said he will probably be stepping down after being involved with the River Kings for the last 13-years, first as a player and then as a coach for the last two seasons. He said what the team needs right now are fresh players to kickstart the team.
“This year you’re going to see a lot more of younger guys a little more eager to come to practice and learn,” Jurista said.
Smith said the focus will be on getting some younger recruits to mix in with some of the returning veterans like Luke Walker, Ben Reinbolt and Steve Cullis. Together the team should make for “some good entertaining hockey,” he said.
Hockey players between the ages of 19-32 vying for a spot on the River Kings can come out for tryouts on Sept. 19 at 9 p.m. at the Terrace Sportsplex.
—with files from Matthew Allen