The Terrace River Kings are gearing up for a fresh season with a new head coach who says they have all the tools to win.
“I’m excited for the year. We have a good positive attitude in the dressing room and a great group of guys,” said Kevin Legros, new head coach this year. “Essentially we have what we need to win, we just have to put all the tools together.”
Legros has been assistant coach of the River Kings with Rob Findlay at the helm for the past three years. This is his first time as head coach of this team, but he has 20 years of coaching experience, having coached minor hockey for many years since 1997 when his son Corbin Legros started peewee.
“I’ve been around all these guys for many years,” said Legros. “Most of the River Kings, I’ve coached at some time in the past…It’s neat to see them grow and develop, not only as hockey players but just as people.”
The River Kings got silver in the Coy Cup three years in a row, 2014 – 2016, with CIHL gold and silver the last two years.
Legros says the core players from last year are back on the ice, including goalie Patrick Leal, who won CIHL Goalie of the Year last year, and team captain Steve Cullis.
“He is a strong leader… very dedicated,” Legros said about Cullis. “He is the driving force in our dressing room. He has been there a long time and he is very respected by the players.”
This year there are also six rookies trying out for the River Kings who are fresh from Midgets, some of whom Legros says have good potential to make the team.
Legros said Nick Homeniuk, a key defenceman from last year, moved away to Fort St. John for work, and Cole Motschilnig moved to Victoria for school.
Another change up is Derek Jurista, who has played forward for the River Kings for the last 10 years, but hung up his skates this spring to become the team’s new assistant coach.
“The body told me it was time,” Jurista said of why he’s no longer playing. He decided to coach because he wanted to stay involved and help with the team.
“I still wanted to be involved with the team,” he said. “After being there so long, I don’t think I could just drop it.”
At age 32, Jurista says he is looking forward to having a different view of the game.
“You can see a lot more when you’re not playing…You’re more sitting back and seeing plays develop, and then you can help guys find where they need to be,” he said.
“I got tired of the three silver medals we have in a row, and I thought maybe if I help coach we could get a gold… I thought maybe it was me dragging us down,” he joked.
As the River Kings enter a new season, the coaches are extending thanks to last year’s sponsors and fans and especially Rob Findlay for the four years he coached the team.
“He essentially laid the groundwork for what we have today,” Legros said of Findlay.
Looking forward, Legros said he is hoping for a winning season — this time the Coy Cup gold.
“We want to win it all this year,” he said. “We have what it takes to win, we just have to get it done.”
River Kings tryouts wrap up Sept. 20, when the team will be finalized.
They suit up for their first exhibition game in Prince Rupert on Sept. 24, and will play their first home game on Oct. 8 against Prince Rupert.