Kings regular season begins today 0
After three weeks of practice and exhibition games, the Pembroke Lumber Kings are ready to get the regular season started.
It all kicks off with two games this weekend at the annual showcase event, which features two games for each team in the Central Canada Hockey League and attracts numerous scouts. The CCHL is the first league to use this format, according to a post by president Kevin Abrams on Twitter.
After a longer summer than usual, Kings’ coach and general manager Sheldon Keefe and the returning players are especially eager to get back to playing. This week has been spent fine tuning line combinations and working on special teams and providing opportunities for a conditioning practice.
“We’ve been working on team-concept stuff and getting the tempo up so the guys are ready to play in games,” he said during practice on Friday afternoon.
The easy schedule also allowed time for some team building, which included a round of paintball in Petawawa Thursday night.
“It is something unique and it was great to bring the guys together to take their minds off the anxiety that comes with starting a new season,” the coach said. “By all accounts it was a good night and we’ve received nothing but positive feedback.”
With so many new faces in the Pembroke lineup this season, the team has opted to start without naming a captain or even alternates. With so many changes, Keefe wants to allow time for the players to settle into their new or bigger roles in some cases and see who steps up. He expects the team will depend on ‘a leadership team’ as it has in the past, so he sees opportunities for players to step up in the leadership department.
Keefe credits the league for trying to build its profile by holding the showcase and making it easier for scouts to congregate in one location and see as many games a possible. The number of scouts has steadily increased and so players try to make an impression.
“This is a great opportunity for our players and the whole league,” Keefe said.
The Kings open the regular season with their first game tonight against the Kemptville 73’s at the Kanata Recreation Centre beginning at 7 p.m. and return to the ice Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. with a game against the Brockville Braves.
Tina Peplinskie is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist