Tag Archives: Powell River Kings

Seeing The Island Sky

Below, the Powell River Kings on board the Island Sky ferry at Saltery Bay, south of Powell River, where I worked until recently. (Although the last few years were on shore working the ramp and selling tickets).

The BCHL Kings were on their way to Nanaimo to face the Clippers and were being serenaded by the ship’s first officer. At this writing, the Kings lead the Clippers two games to one in Island Division playoff action.

The BCHL is wonderful hockey and a host of players end up with hockey scholarships throughout North America.

Many go beyond too.

Brett Hull played for Penticton, Carey Price stopped pucks for Quesnel, Sens forward Kyle Turris starred for Burnaby, and most importantly of course – Scott Gomez dazzled with South Surrey.

Thanks to Beatnik for sending me this. I was there when the Island Sky was a brand new ship having just arrived and it’s nice to see it again. I had worked on two other ships prior to the Island Sky – the Queen of Tsawwassen, which is now in retirement, and the Queen of Chilliwack, that sails the inner passage to Prince Rupert.

Linden In Powell River

Trevor Linden is coming to Powell River on Oct. 19 to give a speech at the theatre, then head on down to the rink to meet the local junior team, the Kings, and drop the puck before their clash with Cowichan Valley.

His timing can’t be worse. The day before he comes, the Habs are in Boston and I know I’ll be busy talking about that and how PK smashed Brad Marchand’s nose with an elbow and Alexei Emelin sent Andrew Ference flying, with head going north and body south. The day after Linden’s visit, the Caps pay a visit to the Bell and I’ll be getting ready for that and how they need to grab a couple more points in the standings while stopping Ovechkin with no problem whatsoever. Both games should provide thrills and spills and …………..

What? There’s no hockey?

Oops. Is my face red.

I think it’s great that Linden will be in town, coincidentally, on the birthday of former Italian hockey star Lucio Topatigh, and also of Jacques E. Brandenberger, the inventor of cellophane. Not to mention Disco Sally, the now-deceased New York dancing grandma. The 19th is quite a day all round, as you can see.

Linden had two mediocre seasons as a Montreal Canadien back in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, missed a whack of games in both years, and only netted 25 goals over the two seasons. It wasn’t a memorable stint in Montreal, but he was always a Vancouver Canuck in his heart throughout his career anyway, even though he played for the Habs, Caps, and Islanders along the way. There’s no denying his sixteen seasons on the West Coast is what he’s remembered for. That and his charity work. And I suppose I should mention that he was President of the NHLPA during the last lockout in 2005-05, even though I don’t want to.

His heart was with the Canucks, which is fine. If I played for the Canucks my heart would be with the Habs. Regardless, welcome Trevor Linden. Enjoy Powell River.

And regarding Powell River, how about this! Justin Bieber to meet Powell River boy

 

 

Excellent Hockey On An Excellent Day

Luciena and I went for a long walk on Sunday afternoon, it was sunny and my beer gut needs exercise, and we ended up at the arena to see the BCHL Powell River Kings and Victoria Grizzlies do battle in a lively tilt that saw Victoria score in overtime to win 4-3.

These kids are awesome. There’s some huge guys out there, 6’5 and such, and in general, everybody skates like the wind and some of them can rifle a shot like almost anyone in the bigs. They’re not quite up to Shea Weber and a few others maybe, but you know what I mean.

These teenagers are serious hockey players, some, from time to time will end up in the NHL, and many are offered great hockey scholarships to Canadian and US schools.

I don’t go to these games enough and I should. It’s very enjoyable, it’s 15 bucks, and you get a birds-eye view.

I do have one complaint though. The Powell River Paper Kings, as they were called ten or twenty years ago, wore Habs uniforms, with a “P” instead of the CH. It was kind of like seeing the Baby Habs out there. But alas, ten years ago or so they switched to green, white, and gold, the same colours as the senior Regals, and that was it for the beautiful Habs uniform.

Here’s what they looked like. It was glorious.

At the rink, I also noticed these signs on the steps. It’s one of the last reminders of the little sports bar my friend and I once owned here in this great little town. It hasn’t been ours in more than a decade but it’s still slightly bittersweet to see these little signs and to know that the place closed its doors, probably permanently, a couple of months ago.

Local Guys Make Good

I’d like to give a big shout out to three Powell Riverites after Canada West beat Canada East 4-2 in in the World Junior A Challenge held in Langley BC the other day.

For those unaware, I live in Powell River.

Head coach of the Powell River Kings, Kent Lewis, was behind the bench for the gold medal team.  Kings forward Evan Richardson scored one of the West goals in the final. and goaltender Sean Maguire is also a King and was voted to the tournament all-star team.

I don’t know the two players but I know Kent Lewis, and he’s a gentleman and a fine hockey man. Who knows, maybe he’ll become a bench boss in the NHL some day. Maybe he’ll replace Jacques Martin!

This tournament featured Tier 11 Junior players from Canada West and Canada East, along with teams from Sweden, Russia, the U.S. and the Czech Republic, all going head-to-head, and I wasn’t there but my friend Wayne was, and he said it was fantastic hockey which you can well imagine.

These teenage players in Tier 11 hockey don’t usually go the route of Major Junior players, who focus on making it to the pros. Tier 11 guys end up with university scolarships instead, although there have been exceptions. Brett Hull came out of the British Columbia Hockey League from the Penticton Knights, Milan (POS) Lucic was a member of the Coquitlam Express, and Carey Price donned the pads for the Quesnel Millionaires before he moved up to Tri-City. There’s been a bunch of ex-BCHLers who made the bigs.

The Powell River Kings used to come into the restaurant I owned in Powell River in the late 1990’s and you can’t believe how much these young guys can eat.

Anyway, congratulations to Kent, Evan, and Sean. It must have been a fantastic experience.

The Powell River Barn

The local rink is primed, shined, and ready to go. In fact, when I was there taking this picture, about thirty teenage guys, fresh and alive, with all their hair and before divorce and bills ravage their souls, were gathered about in some sort of organized confusion. Many wore white shirts and ties, and it appeared to be only one thing. That the Powell River Kings, a powerhouse, elite club in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), are about to start things up soon.

It’s great hockey, although I admit I haven’t been up there in awhile. And I know I’ve been missing something special because the Kings are good. Real good. In fact, this club is presently one of the top Tier 2 junior clubs in Canada.

The Powell River Regals make this their home too, and anyone who follows senior hockey has probably heard of the Regals, winners of three Allan Cups in the past 15 years and finalists once. They dominate most teams they play, and only seem to lose when several of their key guys are unavailable because of jobs and such. They’re going through some rebuilding right now and it may take awhile to find their former glory. But I have faith they will. They’ve always managed before.

It’s a cool building, with a beautiful swimming pool, weight room and concert hall etc, and replaced the old arena in 1975, which of course old-timers felt tinges of sadness about. People still talk about the big Regals and Quebec’s Val d’Or clash for the Hardy Cup in 1970 when the Regals won the five-game series on home ice in the old barn, and they talk about it with chests swelled. It was a big moment in Powell River, and I’ve heard that some fans watched from precarious perches in the rafters with the place bursting at the seams. But the old arena ran its course, and the new one took over.

This fine building is now called the Hap Parker Arena, which suits me much better than the original name, The Recreational Complex, and it’s a fitting tribute to Parker, now deceased, who was a mover and shaker in Powell River hockey circles for decades. He was THE man behind much of the rich history of the Regals and I was lucky enough to visit him once in his home where he showed me clippings and photos of Powell River hockey from over the years. I also stood beside Hap and legendary NHL goalie Glenn Hall during an Allan Cup game when they argued over the quality of the officiating.

For a short time myself and a buddy owned a sports bar in Powell River, and we had a board sign exactly where you see the RONA sign in the photo. And it was here that the great old NHL referee Red Storey, while on the ice at an old-timers game, announced to the full house with his microphone that Kane’s Pub served excellent spaghetti.

And this is the place where the Hanson brothers did their schtick on skates, and then two of them, Steve and Jeff Carlson, came back to my pub, I locked the doors, and we drank beer and talked hockey all night.

Big Night In A Small Town. A Tribute To Gary Lupul

008

Powell River, the little semi-isolated town up the coast from Vancouver, boasts a junior team, the Kings, in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), and one of the best senior squads in all of Canada, the Regals. It’s serious hockey played in these parts. But on Saturday night, the most important hockey game of the year will be a fun night, a great night, but also a bittersweet night.

Because on this night, the town, players and fans honour Gary Lupul.

Gary Lupul was my friend, as I’ve mentioned here before. We used to have great all-night talks. His mom, who recently passed away, was a lovely lady who oozed class and was the force behind the town getting a new arena. Whenever I see his dad at the mall or on the street, he always has something silly to say that makes me laugh. In fact, I just Vic at the mall a few days ago sitting with a bunch of women his age, and he had them all laughing and giggling.

The Lupul family is a family of warm and funny characters.

Gary began as a huge star in the Western Hockey League with the Victoria Cougars and went on to play 293 games with the Vancouver Canucks, scoring 70 goals and had 145 points. He played against Gretzky, Lemieux, Cheevers and Lafleur, and although slightly small, was a tough cookie who stood up to everyone.

But he had troubles off the ice. Drugs and alcohol ended up shortening his career and although he regretted it, he also probably knew he couldn’t change. He was a fun-loving fellow who drove his coaches crazy but was loved by his teammates, who always speak of him now with a smile on their faces.

Happily, at a time when he really needed a break, he became a scout for the Canucks and was able to stay in the sport he loved. He would phone me sometimes when he was on wintry roads that took him throughout Ontario from rink to rink – Kitchener one night, Huntsville or Ottawa or Cornwall the next, even my old hometown Orillia, and he would tell me about young players he’d just seen, and you could tell he was in his element.

Just over two years ago, on July 17, 2007, while watching television, Gary suffered a heart attack and died, and we mourned and still mourn. He was a great, kind, funny, generous guy who could relate to a street person as easily as he could to a millionaire. He’d been through some hard times, and he kept a special place in his heart for the down-and-out.

Saturday night, the Vancouver Canucks alumni are coming to Powell River to take on the Regals alumni made up of players who won three Allan Cups in the past fifteen years, and it should be a fun, entertaining night of great passes, slick plays, and smiling faces.

But it won’t really be about the game on this night. It will be about Gary, our friend, who we miss so much.

001 002

Higgins For Gomez. The Habs Just Got Smaller (But Craftier)

Scott Gomez isn’t exactly the big centreman most of us had in mind. In fact, the team just got smaller by dealing 6′, 203 lb. Chris Higgins and minor leaguers defencemen Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko to the New York Rangers for 5’11, 200 lb Gomez, plus AHL’er Tom Pyatt and ECHL defenceman Mike Busto.

Frankly, I don’t know what to think about this. Yes, Higgins underachieved with the Canadiens, never blossoming into the player the organization thought he would become. Same for Gomez in New York. He never became the star on Broadway they thought he’d be, like he was when he was in New Jersey. There, he was an up-and-coming young gun, a two-time Stanley Cups winner over in the swamp.

The problem also remains that Gomez stands to make a silly 8 million this season, which means the bank is perilously close to being broke in Habtown as far as nabbing other players from out there goes. 

It also seems sad that the Habs gave up on McDonagh, who was expected to amount to something in Montreal. Maybe he wasn’t developing the way they thought, or maybe Gainey just really likes Gomez and decided to pay a hefty price.

If this is all the movement Gainey makes, there’s going to be a lot of disappointed Habs fans who understand as much as the brass that the Canadiens aren’t about to set the world on fire with the existing team as is.

Maybe this will all work out. Gomez will shine as a Canadien, and Gainey will end up looking like Sam Pollock. It’s going to be a wait-and-see.

This is what I know about Gomez. I saw him play in Powell River against the home town Kings when he was with the BCHL South Surrey Eagles. He was a huge star in this league, and fans came out to see him. But in Powell River, there were a group of about ten people in the stands who rode him unmercifully, and Gomez got so upset, he started waving his stick and answering back to the hecklers.

When the game began, Gomex was great. He was a beautiful, if somewhat unorthodox skater, and he was great carrying the puck from his end to deep into Powell River’s. But, at about the five minute mark, and maybe because the hecklers had done their job, Gomez was involved in some nasty business on the ice and was promptly thrown out.

So I saw him for five minutes. But I liked the five minutes worth.

Las Vegas Wranglers Take The Boom Out Of Thunder

013

Yes, it’s blistering hot in Las Vegas, at least for me. Thirty celsius is blistering, isn’t it? So what does a good Habs fan do now that the team is finished and it’s so damn hot? Go to a hockey game, that’s what. A good, old fashioned ECHL game 2 Pacific Division final between the Las Vegas Wranglers and Stockton Thunder at the friendly confines of the Orleans Arena, just off the Vegas Strip behind the Orleans Casino.

Las Vegas Wranglers are an affiliate of the Calgary Flames, while Stockton belongs to Edmonton, and both have strong ideas about reaching the ultimate goal, the Kelly Cup. The winner of this series plays the winner of Alaska-Victoria for the right to advance to the big showdown. Montreal’s team in the ECHL, the Cincinnati Cyclones, are still alive and going at it in the east.

Las Vegas has had some problems lately, blowing four, two-goal, first period leads in their playoff run this year, including game one of this series. So blowing leads needed to be corrected, and this little problem, along with seeing what hockey atmosphere is like here, made it interesting and curious for me as I readied to go to the game. How would the Wranglers play, I wondered.

How would they? They played great. They took it to a smallish yet fast Stockton team before 2800 noisy and playful Vegas fans, and came away with a 4-2 win to even this series at one apiece. There were a couple of fights, three Vegas power play goals, and this night was fun, fun, fun. The only unsettling thing was the orange and black colours of the Thunder, for all the obvious reasons. And no, I don’t mean Pittsburgh.

Random notes:

The smallest played on the ice was Wrangler forward Tyler Mosienko, who is non-other than the grandson of Chicago Hall of Famer Bill Mosienko . Bill Mosienko was not only a great player, but also pulled off some magic one night in particular when he scored an incredible three goals in 21 seconds.

Playing for Stockton is a fellow named Cleve Kinley. Amazingly, I met this guy when he was about eleven years old. He’s from Powell River where I live, and about ten years ago when I had a small restaurant there, his parents, who I know slightly, used to bring little Cleve in to eat because the restaurant served all ages. Cleve got bigger and played for the BCHL Powell River Kings, then I never heard from him again. Until tonight.

018 019

024016

Goldie And Kurt Were Almost In Hell. But They Got Out

It’s a shame what happened to Goldie Studlendgehawn. She caught up on her reading, she said, because there was just nothing to do while she was in Vancouver. Except maybe listen to the pitter-patter of raindrops on her roof.  It must have been horrible.

 

Goldie Studlendgehawn, who shortened her name to Hawn and became what she became, told Jay Leno on the Tonight Show a few years back that her and love-of-her-life Kurt Russell lived off and on in Vancouver because their son Wyatt Russell was honing his craft as a goaltender in the Junior ranks there.

 

But they were bored. They had to whittle their days away in their rented three million dollar, 7000 square foot, five bedroom, eleven fireplace igloo in some backwater part of “The City That Fun Forgot.”

 

Nothing to do in Vancouver? There’s more than 2000 restaurants and almost as many bars. And what about the traffic jams? Surely, Vancouver’s traffic jams are almost as good as Los Angeles’.

 

There must be lots to do in Los Angeles. Marvel at gangs as they fight over drug territory. Spend hours looking for the sun through the smog. Enjoy lovely beaches provided you don’t get shot at on the freeway on the way there.

 

And it’s fun to think if young Wyatt would have gotten traded to the the Powell River Kings. After all, the young fellow was stopping pucks for the Coquitlam Express, a junior stepping stone, just like, gulp, the Kings.

 

It’s something Kurt and Goldie probably didn’t want to think about. Although if it had happened, they may have thought about disowning their young Jacques Plante.

 

But the glamorous couple might have liked Powell River. They could’ve joined the Moose or Legion, made new friends, played darts, and quickly forgot about the nightmare they went through in Vancouver. They could’ve dined on those wicked fish and chips at the bowling alley, eaten prawns, lawn bowled, and danced the night away at the raunchy Westview Hotel.

 

It would’ve been great if Wyatt had been traded to the Powell River Kings. It would’ve been so much fun to hear a couple of Hollywood stars screaming at the top of their lungs all up and down the Sunshine Coast.

 

And Goldie Studlendgehawn could’ve sat in Powell River and watched reruns of herself on the Tonight Show, as rain pitter-pattered on her new Powell River roof.