The Powell River Kings’ upcoming 2021-22 season is a welcome return to normal. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kings have dealt with the effects of numerous restrictions.
The team hasn’t played a game at Hap Parker Arena since Mar. 4, 2020. It was game four of its playoff series against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Since then, games have been canceled or moved.
COVID-19 restrictions in Vancouver Coastal Health prevented the Kings from playing any games during the exhibition season last fall. The only games they played during the 2020-21 pod season were at Scotia Barn in Burnaby.
With the BCHL returning to a normal schedule, I want to cover Powell River’s upcoming season. I’ll look at some notable departing players and several of new arrivals. Before that, I’ll take a look at the Kings’ regular season schedule.
The Kings open the 2021-22 regular season at home on Oct. 8 against the Nanaimo Clippers. The last time Powell River played Nanaimo was Feb. 15, 2020 in Nanaimo. Powell River’s first road game is on Oct. 15, when the Kings visit the Clippers.
The Kings also play two games at the Chilliwack Showcase. On Oct. 21, the Kings face the Wenatchee Wild for the only time during the season. On Oct. 22, the Kings play Cranbrook Bucks for the first and only time.
Nov. 21 sees the Kings meet the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters for the only time during the season. On Dec. 11, Powell River faces off against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks for the lone time.
Silverbacks host the Powell River Kings as the two sides meet for the final time this season! 7pm puckdrop in the Shaw Centre! pic.twitter.com/WiqYBMDCKd
— Salmon Arm Silverbacks (@SASilverbacks) January 12, 2019
On Feb. 2, Powell River hosts Prince George as the Spruce Kings visit Hap Parker Arena. It’s the only meeting of the season between the two clubs.
Powell River’s final home game is Mar. 13 against the visiting Coquitlam Express. The Kings’ last game of the 2021-22 regular season is Mar. 20 in Surrey against the Eagles.
As mentioned above, the Kings were strongly affected by COVID-19 restrictions. Like several teams, the Kings saw several players depart to play for American junior A teams.
In two days, the Kings lost four players to teams in the North American Hockey League. Three players left for the Minot Minotauros and one departed for the New Mexico Ice Wolves.
Before the pod season, the Kings were able to recruit several players, and after, they said goodbye to two players with college commitments.
In August, the Kings completed three trades. Defenseman Hayden Tuba was sent to the Melfort Mustangs of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for a player development fee.
Meanwhile, forward Jacob Bonkowski was traded to the Surrey Eagles for forward Karter McNarland. Surrey also receives future considerations from Powell River in the deal.
Finally, forward Dawson Milliken was shipped to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Steinbach Pistons for future considerations.
New arrivals from trades
As mentioned above, McNarland is one of several new players coming to Powell River. He last played for the South Shore Kings of the National Collegiate Development Conference.
Joining him is defenseman Oliver Lepine from the Miramichi Timberwolves of the Maritime Junior Hockey League. The Kings had loaned Lepine to Miramichi at the February trade deadline.
🚨 TRADE ALERT 🚨
We've acquired Philippe Jacques ('02) from the Powell River Kings of the BCHL in exchange for Kaleb Nelson ('03)
— Ottawa Jr. Senators (@OttawaJrSens) June 14, 2021
Joining them is forward Kaleb Nelson. Nelson last played for the Islanders Hockey Club of the NCDC. He was part of a complex three-team trade between the Ottawa Jr. Senators, Salmon Arm Silverbacks, and the Kings.
Coming from the Virden Oil Capitals is forward Hunter Andrew. Andrew was traded to Powell River for Kings forward Braden Fischer. Andrew last played for the Charlotte Rush of the USPHL Premier League.
The last new player via trade is defenseman Nathan Small from the Navan Grads of the Central Canada Hockey League. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Grads didn’t play a game last season. In exchange, the Grads receive future considerations from Powell River.
Aside from the traded players, the Kings have recruited several players for the upcoming season. The first of which is forward Mark D’Agostino. D’Agostino was signed by the Kings for this coming season before heading to the University of Connecticut for 2022-23.
Joining D’Agostino is newly signed goaltender Zakari Brice. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Brice only played one game last season for the North American Hockey League’s Aberdeen Wings. Brice is from Fairbanks, AK, and committed to the University of Arizona for 2022-23.
Coming from the Shattuck St. Mary’s 18U Prep Team is defenseman Casey Aman. In 36 games with the 18U team, Aman scored three goals and 10 assists.
Also coming to Powell River is forward Anthony Lucarelli. Like many players on this list, COVID-19 restrictions prevented Lucarelli from playing any games last season.
We have a new addition to the Kingdom! From the @stoonblazers Parker LaLonde.
— Powell River Kings (@BCHLKings) September 11, 2021
Another recent recruit is forward Parker LaLonde from the Saskatoon Blazers U18 AAA team. Joining him is forward Maxim Potvin. Potvin comes from the Victory Honda 18U AAA team and is also the grandson of NHL legend and four-time Stanley Cup champion Denis Potvin.
Improving on last season
During the pod season in Burnaby, the Kings finished in second place behind the Surrey Eagles. Their overall record was 7-11-1-1, one point ahead of the Coquitlam Express and 19 points behind the Eagles.
The Kings are looking to improve on their pod season record and several of these new players will fill the gaps by departed players. We’ll see what happens when the Kings’ regular season starts in October.