If expectations are sky-high this season for the Prince George Spruce Kings, Alex Evin isn’t particularly feeling the heat. The third-year head coach of the BCHL’s most northern club has a calm and cool approach to the 2021-22 BCHL regular season.
PG returns 16 players from last year’s squad, which claimed the top spot inside the Chilliwack hub. However, Evin isn’t making any lofty predictions right out of the gate.
“I don’t think we should be putting any pressure on these kids. They all want to play well and play for the team. We are going to work and try and be as consistent as possible and hopefully put ourselves in the mix for the right reasons in playing for a trophy.”
The Spruce Kings should be solid in all facets of the game – especially from the blue line out.
Mixing and matching
However, a few new impact players should make the club that much more formidable.
Over the summer, the Spruce Kings acquired Brody Gagno along with his younger brother Ty from the Chilliwack Chiefs. PG also picked up Dylan Schives who has QMJHL experience along with Ian Kern from Powell River.
“The new players we have added via trade are slowly getting more comfortable in fitting in on how we do things so it’s been an enjoyable group to work with as we have many faces who are familiar with the program,” said Evin.
“I think we will have a lot of depth at all three positions actually. I think our goaltenders had a good showing last season and both have come back in good shape and looked great in camp. We have a lot of veterans on the back end and then upfront, I think we have three pretty solid lines that can play in all situations. I don’t know if there will be one certain person or line we will rely on too much.”
Primed to break out
Another player primed for a breakthrough is second-year forward and Cariboo Cougars grad John Herrington. Inside the Chilliwack pod, the Hudson’s Hope, BC product tallied 14 points in 20 games as a rookie.
Evin believes the 19-year-old has all the tools to be an impact player. “John has been in our program for a couple (of) years now. We were very lucky to have our kids, like Johnny, practicing and training a little more than Western (Hockey) League teams did. I think John was so committed off the ice and he came into camp a little bit quicker. Hopefully, he can just keep going in the right direction.”
Evin is also looking forward to seeing a jump in production from captain Kolton Cousins as well as Killian McGregor-Bennett. “Kolton is in the best shape of his life and he is improving every year and I think he will have a great season. Killian is taking good steps too, but we have to start playing a little bit more.”
The regular season kicks off for the Spruce Kings on Oct. 8 in Merritt against the Centennials.