Sunday, August 30, 2015

Exhibition Weekend vs. Merritt

     This weekend marked the first exhibition games for both the Merritt Centennials and the Prince George Spruce Kings. The teams each came away a victory, both taking a win while on the road.

     First, on Friday night the two teams played in Prince George where the Spruce Kings dropped a 7-4 decision (with one goal coming as a result of an empty net). That was a bit more of a young stars game though, as between the two teams there was one player born in 1996, and others were all born in 97, 98, or 99.  The Spruce Kings never trailed going into the third period tied at four goals apiece. The Centennials were sparked by power play goals though, and Josh Tetlichi who came in to play the second half of the game in net, and didn't allow a single past him.

     The bright spots for the team though were the play and chemistry of Cavin Tilsley and Parker Colley. The pair each scored a goal in the game, and then assisted on one another’s goals.

     Looking for revenge, the team headed out for Merritt the next morning. After a long bus ride, and a dinner at Whitespot in Kamloops, the team arrived at Nicole Valley Arena. Some of the guys from the East who hadn't done the drive before marvelled at what a nice drive it was coming down the valley to Merritt. The arrival time was sooner than expected, so the team browsed around the rink, and grabbed some snacks nearby. Finally before they started their official warmup, they juggled a soccer ball amongst themselves.

     Game two had Merritt suiting up a young lineup similar to the previous night, but the Spruce Kings wanting to get chemistry boiling for the season played a much more experienced team that was close to what the opening day roster will look like. They wound up taking a 4-1 decision, and the top line of Corey Hoffman centring Jake LeBrun and Luc Soares sparkled. Soares scored twice and added an assist, Hoffman potted the first goal of the game and had two assists, and captain LeBrun chipped in two assists himself. Alex Brooks-Potts had a solid game in net, and the defence in front of him did a good job of limiting chances.

     Coming up this week, Prince George will travel to Grand Prairie on Tuesday, and then play host to the Vernon Vipers on Friday before playing the team again on Saturday in Vernon. Friday’s game against the Vipers will also be broadcast on FASTHockey.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Training Camp Wrap-Up

This week has been a whirlwind since the opening night practice. Three intra-squad games have been played, where the 40 man roster has been split in two, and then played full games against one another. It wasn't just games going on this week though.

Tuesday the boys went through fitness testing, where the team did the following exercises: bench press, deadlift, push-ups, chin-ups, leg raises, and finished with an interesting drill that tested their overall fitness by measuring oxygen levels while they did lateral jumps back and forth.

Wednesday took the team on the “Royal Run” where they ran up through the UNBC connector trails, and ended at Shane Lake. With his team coming first overall, Cole Todd also finished with the best personal time, and said this the day after, “You go into those events, and you just want to set the pace, and be an example for the younger guys, so that’s what I tried to do.”

Thursday brought them to YMCA, where the boys got the opportunity for some team binding through rock climbing, and an obstacle course later on.

Walk home after the Royal Run
Now after four days of training camp, the boys are ready to take on some more competition. While playing intra-squad games does bring a game like mentality, it really isn’t the same as playing a different opponent like the team will do this weekend when they take on the Merritt Centennials in a home and home match up. Friday the teams will be in Prince George, and then make their way over to Merritt for the second game of the series.

 “I’ve got a couple buddies on that team. I’d like to be in the lineup and push the pace so I’m excited,” Cole Todd added about playing the Centennials this weekend. 

The team will work on narrowing their roster to be ready for their season/home opener on September 11th when they take on the new expansion team, the Wenatchee Wild. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Returning Faces: Stephen Penner

Stephen Penner is both old and new to the Spruce Kings. Penner grew up in Prince George, and then played his first two BCHL seasons with his home town team. On December 1st 2014 though, that changed as he was traded to the Trail Smoke Eaters along with Cooper Leitch in exchange for Viktor Dombrovskiy. Entering the summer, Penner expected to close out his junior career with Trail, but the Spruce Kings decided they wanted their 6'5" home grown boy back. The trade was made, and Penner couldn't be happier at the idea of ending with his hometown Spruce Kings.

You've played most of your hockey career in Prince George, so what was the transition like playing for Trail last year? 

The transition to Trail took me some time to get used to but the team, my billets, and community were very welcoming and made the transition a lot easier.

What is it like playing in the BCHL for your home town team? 

Playing for my home town team is such an indescribable feeling. I grew up going to kings games and always looked up to the players. Now I'm on the other end and I feel honoured to have that privilege because not a lot of junior players have that opportunity to play for an organization like this in their home town.

How did you react when you heard you were coming back to the Spruce Kings? 

I was shocked and excited when I found out I was coming home to PG. I was not expecting to be traded back. Playing for Trail was an amazing experience and I had a lot of fun but I'm excited to get the season started in PG again.

What is your favourite hockey memory of all time? 

My favourite hockey memory is winning midget tier 1 provincials in 2012.

What is your favourite thing about the city of Prince George? 

My favourite part of PG is the variety of things to do. There's great hiking, camping, fishing, and lakes to relax at. It's a great place in the summer and winter.

Best place to eat in Prince George?

My favourite place to eat in PG is D'Lanos for breakfast.

With a big and experienced defence corps coming to play this year, how much of a strength do you expect that to be for the team? 

I'm excited to be a part of such a strong defensive group. I feel other teams will be intimidated and scared to play against us.

What do you best bring as a player? 

I bring a lot of physicality as a player. I love to hit and block shots and will stick up for my teammates. I'll do whatever it takes to win.

What are your goals for this season? 

My goals for this season is to make it to the RBC Cup.

Favourite genre of music/ favourite song? 

I like to listen to a lot of country and rock. My favourite song right now is Renegades by X Ambassadors.

Favourite movie? 

My favourite movies are the Bourne trilogy.

Who is one NHL player you try to model your game after? 

Shea Weber is a player I feel like I try to model myself my game after. I try to play the same physical style he does.

Which NHL team is your favourite, and why?

My favourite NHL team is the Vancouver Canucks because I grew up watching them with my family and they are like a home team for all of BC.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Training Camp: Day 1

Assistant Head Coach, Adam Maglio with players
     Today kicked off the beginning of training camp for the Prince George Spruce kings. With summer coming to a close, 41 boys waited in the lobby of the Coliseum to sign in, and kick off a week of try-outs. After weighing in, and having their height measured, the group broke into two groups to begin practice, with one team taking the early practice, and the other taking the late night shift.

     The first group had the majority of returning Spruce Kings players, while the second had the three Cariboo Cougar players attempting to crack the line-up. Night one consisted of just drills, so it was tough to get a good read on players, but it was a good opportunity for them to gel together, and prepare for the games amongst themselves that will be going on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

     I read an article a while back about Connor McDavid, and it said that while in exhibition games he would score on his first few shifts, and then focus on passing it off to team mates from there on in. Now I'm not saying Cole Todd is Connor McDavid, but that's the kind of performance I saw tonight. The first two shots I saw him take went in, and  from there on while he tried to score, his priority seemed to shift to being a play maker. Being one of the 20 year olds on the team this year, that is exactly the type of leadership that the Spruce Kings are expecting from their returning core.

     For the rest of training camp, Tuesday will consist of fitness testing, and the first intra-squad game, Wednesday will have a "Royal Run" up near UNBC followed by a game at night, and finally Thursday will have rock climbing in the morning followed by the final intra-squad game. All games begin at 7pm, and will be held at the Coliseum.

Returning Faces: Rider Stoglin

(Photo by Garrett James Photography)
Being from Colorado, winters in Prince George didn't faze Rider Stoglin. In fact, it made him feel right at home. In his rookie season last year, he put up 12 points in 53 games while playing a mostly defensive role on the team. While he prides his two way play, Rider is expecting to step up this season with a year of experience in the BCHL under his belt.

How did you like your first season with the Spruce Kings?

"My first year with the Kings was awesome. It didn't take long to get into a routine and become comfortable with all the guys on the ice. I think I had higher expectations for myself last year, but I would say I'm excited to push myself towards them this season."

Coming up from the states, what appealed to you about Prince George?

"Obviously Prince George is quite a ways from where I am from, but the thing that appealed to me when decided to play here was the way the staff treated me right off the bat. As soon as the opportunity to play here became a reality, I was welcomed by the entire staff even before I made my final decision."

What is your favourite thing about the city?

"My favorite thing about the city is the fans. Even though we have one of the smaller barns in the league, it's the best environment for us as players."

How do you plan to improve personally on last season?

"Personally, I plan on improving my offensive game this season and playing with more confidence. As a rookie last year, my role was much more defensive. I intend to improve on that but mix my offensive ability in there as well."

What did you think about Jake LeBrun being chosen as captain?

"I think that Brunner will make a great captain. He was definitely my number one pick headed into this season because of the way he carries himself, and the fact that he has the most  experience  on this team."

How do Prince George winters match up with Colorado winters? 

"Prince George winters are surprisingly similar to Colorado winters. Because the altitude is so high in Colorado, we get tons of snow as well. However, the biggest difference is that Colorado gets so much sunlight that the snow doesn't always stay around as long even though it's fairly similar in temperature."

Who is your favourite NHL team and why?

"My favorite NHL team is definitely the Avalanche just because that's where I'm from and that's who I've grown up watching the most."

What is your favourite hockey memory? 

"My favorite hockey memory was the first round of playoffs last year. Beating Langley at home in 6 was an awesome feeling."

Puck from Stoglin's first goal
What was your favourite experience from last season?

"My personal favorite experience from last season was scoring my first goal. It took too long to come but when it did, it was amazing. The building was so loud and it was just a special feeling."
(Goal was on December 5th, 2014)

What is your favourite genre of music/ favourite song? 

"I'm not sure that I have a favorite song, but my favorite genre is definitely country."

What kind of player would you describe yourself as?

"I personally like to think of myself as a two way forward. Someone that can add offensive ability but also can be trusted in a tight game late in the 3rd period."

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Returning Faces: Alex Brooks-Potts

After taking half the workload last season, Alex Brooks-Potts will be expected to take on a little more this time around. Entering his second year in the league, he put up a 11-14-0 record to work off from last year. This season sees an experienced group of blueliners playing, and all of them have some height on them, but Alex said he doesn't worry about seeing around them.

Allan WISHART/Free Press
How are you looking forward to trying to see around the big/tall defense in front of you this season? 

" It's always nice having size in the defensive core group. I don't think I'll have many issues seeing around them as their size will help clear opponents and sight lines towards the puck when the play is in our end."

What do you expect the strength of the team to be this season? 

"Our goal is to be a top team. We have a great group of returning players with lots of leadership, as well as many talented off season acquisitions. Everyone is prepared to work hard and battle for the top spot in the league."

How do the winters in Prince George match up against those back home in Ontario? 

"Last year was a mild winter compared to back home in Ontario. From what I've heard though, the winters can be very hash in Prince George so we'll see what this winter season has in store."

What did you get up to this offseason besides for hockey? 

"I spent a lot of time hanging out with family and friends. It's always tough saying bye to them for the year, but the hockey and people in Prince George make it more than worth it."

What genre of music do you like? What's your favourite song? 

"I like all kinds of music. As a guitar player, I listen to a lot of classic rock and blues, but I also appreciate a lot of modern music. It's hard for me to pick my favourite song, but some that I would consider would be "Free Bird", "Imagine", or "Bohemian Rhapsody"."

Do you have any goalies you model your game after? 

"I try to model my game after many aspects of goalies in the NHL. Overall, Carey Price and Jonathan Quick are the two I study the most."

Who is your favourite NHL team, and why? 

"When I was younger, my favourite team was the Colorado Avalanche because they had Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic. Today, I stick with the team that's closest to my home town and cheer for Toronto."

What do you think your greatest strength is as a goalie? 

"I think my biggest strength as a goalie is my lateral movement.  I worked on being explosive and as fast as possible this summer with my trainer, Adam Lloyd."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Returning Faces: Ryan Frtiz

     Prince George is a long ways from home for Ryan Fritz. The young defenceman is from Rochester, New York, and was originally signed last year by the Nanaimo Clippers, but then traded over to Prince George later in the season. This year he will be joining a very big, and experienced defence crew which he will fit right into with his 6'2" frame, and one year of BCHL experience.

     In an interview, Ryan talks a little about his life both on and off the ice. 

What do you think about the blueliners on the team this season?

(Photo from James Garrett Photography)
"We should be very strong on d this year we have a bunch of big strong d man that are ready to get the job done."

How do you want to contribute this season as a returning player?

"I would like to be the guy that they put out for every penalty kill and in big situations at the end of the game."

What do you think about Jake LeBrun being selected as captain?

"I think it was a great choice, he's a leader on and off the ice."

What is your favourite thing about Prince George?

"The snow, because it reminds me of home and also because I just love it."

All time, what is your favourite hockey memory?

"Winning the state championship, and then going to nationals and placing 3rd."

What is your favourite thing about New York?

"I like going home in the summer and relaxing at my cottage and being on the water."

Outside of hockey, what did you get up to this offseason?

 "Just spent time with family and friends at my cottage and had a great summer."

What is your favourite kind of music? Favourite song?

"I like all kinds of music, but my favorite song would have to be glory by lil Wayne it gets me pumped up"

Who is your favourite NHL team and why?

"Buffalo Sabres and just because my dad loves them, and I grew up going to their games."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The New Kings: Parker Colley

     Not all blossoming hockey players have someone with personal expereince to turn to. That's the case for Parker Colley though, as his brother Boston has two years of Junior B experience to pass on. 
Parker Colley, pictured left, with his brother Boston
     Parker said in an interview that his brother has a big influence on his game, and has also helped him prepare for this season in junior hockey. Last season, Parker led the Vancouver Northeast Chiefs in scoring with 64 points in just 40 games which placed him third overall in BC Major Midget League scoring.  Then in a single game with his hometown Ridge Meadows Flames, Parker managed to pickup an assist.

     Here is a little more to know about Parker, with his life both on, and off the ice.

What are you most looking forward to this season with the Spruce Kings?

"I'm most looking forward to the home games because of what I've heard about the fans, and how loud they get for the team"

What do you think you'll bring to the team this season?

"I think what I bring best to the team is my speed, and my vision to be able to make good and smart plays."

Have you set any goals for this season?

"My goal this season is to go far in the playoffs and to hopefully put up good numbers and just learn about the league and how it works."

Favourite music/song?

Favourite music: country; favourite song: Homegrown - Zach brown band

Who's your favourite NHL team?

"The Pittsburgh penguins because of all the skill they have and they are fun to watch."

How are you looking forward to all the bus rides that playing for Prince George entails?

"Bus rides should be fun because those are the times when you get to be with the boys and bond with them."

What do you think of newly named captain Jake LeBrun?

"Jake has been good you can tell that he is a good leader and will help the team out a lot this year."

What's the biggest difference you've noticed so far in the BCHL?

"The pace of everybody on the ice is a lot faster and the guys are bigger and more skilled."

Favourite hockey memory?

"Favourite hockey memory winning the provincial championship last year with the north east chiefs."

Outside of hockey, what have you been up to this summer?

"Mostly just golfing in the offseason."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Burnett Added to Defense

Photo by: Dan Hickling
The Prince George Spruce Kings are pleased to announce the acquisition of 19 year old defenseman Adam Burnett from The Ancaster Avalanche of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) in exchange for future considerations.

The 6’3” 205lb Burnett is from Waterdown, Ontario and played 35 games last in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) split between the Stouffville Spirit and Milton Icehawks. He tallied 3 goals and 14 assists for 17 points plus 62 minutes in penalties in those 35 games. He finished the season with the Ancaster Avalanche where he tallied 2 goals and 11 assists for 13 points plus 14 penalty minutes in 13 games played.

“Adam is a big strong veteran defenseman with great leadership abilities. He has played over 130 Junior A games in Ontario. He will play in all situations for us and make an already deep defense group even deeper. A lot of the success we have this season will start with our defensemen and Adam will be a big part of that” said Spruce Kings General Manager Mike Hawes.

Adam will join the rest of his Spruce Kings teammates when the team commences their Main Training Camp on August 24th at the coliseum.

(Press Release from the Prince George Spruce Kings)

LeBrun for Captain

In advance of the start of the team’s training camp, The Prince George Spruce Kings are excited to announce that 20 year old local Prince George player Jake LeBrun will be team Captain for the upcoming 2015/2016 season.

LeBrun is entering his fourth season as a Spruce King and is a veteran of over 160 regular season and playoff games. Last season LeBrun tallied 17 goals and 20 assists for 37 points in 42 regular season games and played an integral part of the Spruce Kings’ round one playoff series victory over The Langley Rivermen.

“Jake has all the leadership qualities that you look for in a Captain. He also knows what the expectations of the team are and understands what it takes for the team to be successful. He’s very deserving of this honour and will do a tremendous job as a leader” said Spruce Kings General Manager Mike Hawes.

“It’s an honour and a dream come true to be named Captain of my home town team. Something I’ve been working towards for the last few years. To be rewarded for all my hard work is really satisfying” said Jake LeBrun.

In getting to know our returning players we feel Jake is a great choice to be our captain for this season.  He is entering his fourth season with our team and has a lot of experience.  He leads by example both on and off the ice and has a lot of respect from his teammates and our coaching staff. We have a lot of confidence in Jake and believe he will be a great captain for us” said Spruce Kings Head Coach Chad van Diemen.

Jake LeBrun will join the rest of his Spruce Kings teammates at training camp from Monday August 24th to Thursday Aug 28th. All ice times of training camp will be in the evenings and will include full intra-squad games at 7:00pm on Tuesday Aug 25th, Wednesday Aug 26th and Thursday Aug 27th. All training camp games are open to the public and free of charge. The Spruce Kings will welcome the Merritt Centennials to town for the team’s first exhibition game on Friday August 28th at 7:00pm. We look forward to having our loyal Spruce Kings fans at the coliseum to see what this year’s version of the squad will look like.

(Press Release from the Prince George Spruce Kings)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bechtel Acquired From Cowicahn Valley Capitals

Rylan Bechtel,
Photo by Garrett James Photogrpahy
The Prince George Spruce Kings are pleased to announce the acquisition of 20 year old defenseman Rylan Bechtel from The Cowichan Valley Capitals in exchange for 19 year old defenseman Mitch Meek.

The 5’10” 195lb Bechtel is from Chilliwack and is a BCHL veteran with 173 games played. Last season in 56 games played with Cowichan Valley, Bechtel tallied 5 goals and 37 assists for 42 points to go along with 60 penalty minutes.

“Rylan is a veteran player with a lot of experience in our league. He is a very solid two way defenseman who will come in here and play in all situations for us while providing a lot of leadership. He’s also a tremendous young man who will fit in well with our core values and provide some mentorship for our younger players” said Spruce Kings General Manager Mike Hawes.

Mitch Meek had been acquired by the Spruce Kings earlier in the off season in a three team trade involving The Vernon Vipers and West Kelowna Warriors.

Rylan Bechtel will join the rest of his Spruce Kings teammates when the team commences their Main Training Camp on Monday August 24th at the coliseum.

(Press Release from the Prince George Spruce Kings)

Here's a little of what to expect this season from Bechtel.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ryan Howse Joins Scouting Team

The Prince George Spruce Kings are excited to announce the addition of former Spruce Kings player, Calgary Flames draft pick and local rep hockey coach Ryan Howse to their scouting staff.

Ryan played for the Spruce Kings as a 15 year old during the 2006/2007 season and was a member of the team that hosted the Royal Bank Cup. He then went on to a stellar Western Hockey League career which included a 51 goal, 32 assist season in 2010/2011. He was drafted in the 3rd round, 74th overall by the Calgary Flames in 2009.

Last season Ryan won Prince George Minor Hockey Rep Coach of the year after overseeing the Bantam Tier 2 Cougars. This season Ryan will be the head coach for the Midget Tier 1 Cougars.

“Ryan was a tremendous player who’s hockey sense and skill set was through the roof. He has been able to translate that hockey ability to the coaching side of the game and has also developed a keen eye when it comes to identifying talent. It’s always good when you can add a tremendous, young and talented hockey mind to your staff. In his role as head coach of the midget tier 1 team this season he will get a chance to see a lot of good midget teams and players in North America. That will be very beneficial for us” said Spruce Kings General Manager Mike Hawes.

“I’m very excited to be coming on board with the Spruce Kings. They’ve always been a big part of my life on and off the ice” said Ryan Howse.

Ryan is currently working alongside Spruce Kings head coach Chad van Diemen for the next three weeks during the Spruce Kings Hockey School.