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.