Hockey players are hitting the ice to tryout for the Terrace River Kings over the next few weeks, with the team’s first game in Quesnel Sept. 30.
The team hasn’t been finalized yet, but a few new, strong recruits are trying out.
Derek Jurista, who is head coach this year, says he’s looking forward to the season.
“Our team this year, we’re all pretty young, pretty fast,” said Jurista. “I feel like being aggressive is going to be the way to play.”
Jurista was the assistant coach last year, with Kevin Legros as head coach, but the two are switching roles. Legros says he’s busy and feels it’s time to pass things off.
“I think Derek’s going to go an excellent job as head coach,” said Legros. “He’s a smart hockey player, he’s played a lot of good hockey and he knows the game. And he knows the guys too.”
Last year was Jurista’s first year coaching the River Kings, after close to 10 years playing for the team.
“It was good,” said Jurista of coaching last year. “It was an eye opener, for sure. You see a lot more stuff from the bench than you do when you’re playing. You can pick out a lot more mistakes and critique a lot more things… than when you’re on the ice.”
“I found it to be a bit more stressful as well, ‘cause you have no control. You kind of gotta keep your wits about you… sometimes I’m not as calm,” he said, adding that he’ll tone it down now as the head coach.
The CIHL kicks off this year without the Smithers Steelheads, who couldn’t secure enough players for a team, and that leaves Terrace, Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Williams Lake and Quesnel in the league.
“It’s going to be a little different for sure, not having Smithers in the league,” said Jurista. “But Rupert and Kitimat are always good games.”
Prince Rupert never gives up, Jurista said, and with Kitimat it’s hard to know what to expect, since they picked up a bunch of new recruits over the summer.
“I’m not sure what to expect,” said Jurista. “I know they’ll probably be young and eager to go, but… we’ll soon find out.”
The River Kings continue with tryouts early this month, and will hit the road Sept. 30 to Oct. 1.Their first home game is Oct. 7.