As the voice behind the microphone at the Spruce Kings games, I've had an opportunity to watch a number of players show their stuff in the Coliseum and watched them move on to the next level. Sometimes it is easy to follow a player and other times you lose track of them. It is always nice to catch up to them again somewhere down the road. For me this week, that road or roads have led to Fort St. John for the 2010 Allan Cup.
The Allan Cup is the holy grail for senior men's amateur hockey and has been around since before the Stanley Cup. Based around a six team two division tournament, the Allan Cup is more in common with the RBC Royal Bank Cup as teams play a round robin series and then move through an elimination series before going to a single championship game.
Every year a different city is selected to host the Allan Cup with the team playing in that city getting an automatic spot in the tournament while five other regional spots are determined through playoffs and regional championships. The closest the Allan Cup tournament has ever been to Prince George is 1993 when it was held in Quesnel. The 102nd edition of the tournament is being held in Fort St. John with the Flyers the host team.
There are five Spruce Kings alumni on the FSJ team with Chris Stevens, Matt Shuya and Tyler Loney the most recent to have worn the crown. Adam Loncan and Gerard Dicaire are the other three that local fans will remember having played in Prince George. Dicaire, a true defenceman, was with the Spruce Kings for the 1998-99 season. Playing in 51 games, he finished with a record of 6 goals and 16 assists; he also played in 11 playoff games that year and picked up a game winning goal and one assist.
Adam Loncan played two seasons with the Spruce Kings, one in the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League and the other in the first year that the Spruce Kings joined the British Columbia Hockey League as a Junior A team. Loncan finished fifth in team scoring in that inaugural season in the BCHL with 17 goals and 28 assists through 58 games. Loncan went on to play for the Prince George Cougars the following year and also had five years of CIS hockey in Alberta before playing as a pro for two seasons in the CHL.
Tyler Loney played three seasons with the Spruce Kings; although he played as a defenceman in his rookie year, he found a great deal of success up front and especially on the top of the crease where it was next to impossible to move him. Loney wore the 'C' in his graduating year and holds many franchise records from his time with the team including the most penalty minutes in a single season with 242 and in a career with 578. Loney wasn't just a physical player though and finished his three years with 156 games played, 45 goals and 68 assists.
Chris Stevens was sixteen when he first started playing for the Spruce Kings and over the course of three seasons found a spot on the team's record books in the categories of games played (9th - 169), goals (2nd - 82), assists (6th - 100), points (4th - 181), power play goals (7th - 21), short handed goals (5th - 5) and game winning goals (2nd - 13). At the end of the 2004-05 season, when the Spruce Kings lost to the Vernon Vipers in the Interior Conference finals, Stevens received a call to finish the season out with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Matt Shuya played four seasons and the second most games with the Spruce Kings with 208, 17 behind Derek Dinelle. Had it not been for a blockbuster trade at the trading deadline, Shuya would have been eligible to play in twenty more regular season games wearing the crown and may have been able to pass Dinelle. Shuya's name is also in multiple categories for career and single season records including fifth for goals scored with 69, tenth for points with 141 and third for penalty minutes with 374.
Besides these five, the Powell River Regals have another three Spruce Kings alumni with Troy Dalton, Mike Stutzel and Mike Legg. Legg, a goaltender, played three seasons with the Spruce Kings between 1985 and 1988 in the Peace Caribou Junior Hockey League. Dalton was with the team for three seasons as well between the years of 1993 and 1996 which spanned both the PCJHL and the RMJHL. Stutzel's spent time with the Spruce Kings from 1997 to 1999, the team's second and third seasons in the BCHL.
In my next posting, I will take a closer look at the players today and how they are faring at the 2010 Allan Cup. If time permits, between games, I hope to be able to sit down with at least a couple of them and just talk about those days when they wore the crown with pride and played in the Coliseum as members of the Prince George Spruce Kings.