The Terrace River Kings are warming up the ice as the hockey season skates into view.
With a mix of both new and old strong players on the team, general manager Ross Smith says they’re looking forward to making this a year to remember with 16 games ahead of them.
“We have a good team again, we’ve got some coming back from last year and new players. It’s all looking good,” he says.
Former team captains Steve Cullis and Austin Turner are back on the team, with Stephen Turner taking on the head coach position. The final roster has yet to be determined but he says they have fresh talent that has just moved into Terrace, which he hopes will intimidate the other teams especially as they will have more competitors to fight against this season.
Hazelton Bulldogs and Smithers Steelheads are back in the Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) after a hiatus from the rink, and as for returning competition, new players on the opposing teams have yet to be tested but is sure they will be defeated.
Last year, the Terrace River Kings lost 3-9 against Quesnel Kangaroos in the CIHL finals. Despite doing their best on the ice, they had players withdraw from that game last minute which led to their downfall.
Along with the Quesnel Kangaroos, the River Kings also opted out from the Coy Cup tournament following time commitments and extra travel costs. Instead of the two finalists, the Prince Rupert Rampage who took third place in the league, were the default team that attended the Senior Men’s AA Championships.
But this year, Smith says it’s going to be different as they have a lot of excitement from their younger players who are eager to show what they’re made of. They also have new coaches and more volunteers that will help their season run smoothly.
“We want to win the league this year and we’re going to be competitive, I think the new coaches will bring in some new systems and it’s all going to be very exciting,” Smith says.
The 2020 Coy Cup will be hosted by Quesnel, making the location more accessible for River Kings to travel to this season if they make it to the finals.
Although their spirit is strong, Smith adds their success relies heavily upon their fans to fuel them during their games. Having the encouragement from the sidelines pushes them forward and he wants their players to feel empowered to make their town proud. Ticket sales from the games are also put towards the team to help pay for travel costs and other finances.
“We still need to get more fans to watch our games, it’s how we survive. Without their support, there would be no support,” he says. “It’s all about getting people to come out and watch.”
The first Terrace River Kings’ game will be against the Hazelton Bulldogs at the New Upper Skeena Recreation Centre in Hazelton on Saturday, Sept. 28.