Terrace will see their rivals Prince Rupert a total of three times this season as the 2019-20 Central Interior Hockey League schedule was recently released.
The two sides will not meet until December when they will face off in what is sure to be a heated back to back series. Prince Rupert will host the River Kings on Dec. 7, followed by the Rampage travelling to Terrace the following week on Dec. 14.
There will be a third and final matchup between the two sides in the new year on Jan. 31.
The River Kings will get their first crack at the defending champion Quesnel Kangaroos on Oct. 6 when they host the Cariboo region team at the Terrace Sportsplex.
Terrace’s season opener will come on Sept. 28 when they head east on Highway 16 to take on the CIHL’s newly added Hazelton Bulldogs. The River Kings will face the league’s other new team, the Smithers Steelheads, for the first time on Nov. 16 on the road.
Home fans will get a chance to see the new teams when Hazelton comes to town on Nov. 9, and Smithers when they visit on Nov. 23.
The home opening puck drop is set for Oct. 4 against the Williams Lake Stampeders.
Two new teams
CIHL will have a pair of new teams taking the ice this season as Smithers and Hazelton get set to join the league.
The additions were confirmed at the CIHL annual general meeting in May, and will bump the league up to seven teams, its highest total since the Prince Rupert Rampage joined the league back in 2009. The Smithers Steelheads ceased operations after the 2016-17 season. Hazelton has not had a team in the CIHL since the Wolverines folded after the 2011-12 season.
CIHL president Ron German is excited for the move, saying it strengthens the league and also makes the idea of joining more attractive for other small towns. There have been discussions with Vanderhoof about bringing back their team in the future as well. The town previously boasted the Omineca Ice in the league. Lac la Hache also used to have a CIHL team.
German said the expansion will also allow hockey fans more variety over the course of the 16-game season.
“We’ll get a little more variety than just Terrace and Kitimat all the time,” German said.
While the developments are good news for the long term health of the league, and the state of hockey in the north, German explained that the new teams will likely come into conflict with Prince Rupert and the surrounding area while they build their new roster. CIHL teams often feature players from out of town, meaning there will be more competition for the region’s top talent this year.
Aside from Prince Rupert and the expansion teams, the league consists of the Terrace River Kings, Kitimat Ice Demons, Quesnel Kangaroos and Williams Lake Stampeders.