Spruce Kings young guns finding their stride


In youth we learn; in age we understand.

For the Prince George Spruce Kings, a pair of promising rookies are learning on the fly.

Playing on a veteran-laden roster, Nick Rheaume and Max Borovinskiy are scratching and clawing for a regular spot in the lineup.

After getting swept in the first round of last year’s playoffs to the Trail Smoke Eaters, general manager Mike Hawes re-tooled his roster by adding the young forwards to the mix.

Borovinskiy comes to the BCHL’s most northern franchise after suiting up for the Burnaby Winter Club’s Prep team where he amassed 26 points in the 34 games.

The 16-year-old from West Vancouver admits the jump has led to some growing pains but is quite happy to be on a junior A roster.

“I think I have been doing my part, I have been playing hard and just doing what I can to help the team win.”

The BWC has become a major talent-building pipeline for the Spruce Kings over the past several seasons. They’ve signed several high-end players who ended up having successful stints in BC’s northern capital including Ben Poisson, Nick Poisson, Liam Watson-Brawn, Ethan De Jong, Fin Williams, Nick Bochen, and Layton Ahac.

(Max Borovinskiy in preseason action for the Prince George Spruce Kings. Photo credit: Vicki Brown Photography)

“A lot of guys have come through BWC and found success up here and I thought it was a really good fit. I connected well with the coach. I talked to a couple of guys before I made my decision, a lot of guys said they liked it here, loved the culture so it was a no-brainer when (head coach) Alex (Evin) offered me a spot.”

Borovinskiy believes that even though ice time will be limited, his skill-set will be on full display.

“My passing and my vision are probably my two biggest assets, I think I am a 200-foot player too, so I think I help out a lot in the d-zone as a centreman.”

Rheaume brings NHL bloodlines to PG

Rheaume on the other hand comes by the game honestly.

He is the son of former NHLer Pascal Rheaume, who suited up in the 318 NHL games for the New Jersey Devils, Atlanta Thrashers, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, and Arizona Coyotes.

The younger Rheaume expects to be a chip off the old block and occupy a bottom-six forward role with the Spruce Kings.

“I think I can bring energy with a physical game, I think it is fun to see all the guys hit so that is what I try to do. I want to be physical and win my battles and contribute at both ends of the ice.”

Rheaume admits while the pandemic did throw a wrench into his normal off-season training program, the 18-year-old from Sherbrooke, Quebec looks on the bright side.

“I think every player had an adjustment, we had a much longer summer, I got to go to the gym a lot more often trying to get stronger. But I also think we are lucky as well compared to all the leagues across Canada and the United States as some are not playing right now.”

Growing up under the roof of a professional hockey player, Rheaume received the proper guidance on how to advance through the ranks.

“It’s always fun getting his comments after the game, I talk to him a lot and he tries to tell me what to do and what I need to work on. I think I am also at an age where I need to play for my name and not for his name because when you get to junior it’s really your game and you try to play for yourself.”

Rheaume gets fatherly advice – sort of

“He never tells me what to do and always wants me to have fun. I think it’s funny because when you look at him and me, we kind of look alike on the ice.”

Pascal captured a Stanley Cup with the Devils back in 2003 after defeating the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in seven games.

While Nick doesn’t remember much from that championship year, he had several encounters with NHL players given he was allowed locker room access.

“Early on I could see what I wanted to do, not everybody gets to do that in their life. It’s so fun when you are a kid seeing all of the NHL players at a young age, so I think hockey has been in our family for a while now.”

“It wasn’t always easing moving around from place to place because you are the new kid on the team and (have) to try and make your spot. But I am glad I did that when I was young, so when you get older you are prepared for it. In Prince George, the older guys have done a good job welcoming us.”

Rheaume spent last year in the United States High School Prep ranks playing for Cushing Academy where he recorded 35 points in 34 games.