Sports

Kings open season vs. Colts

Jamie Bramburger

By Jamie Bramburger, Special to The Daily Observer

The Pembroke Lumber Kings will begin their first season with Sean Crozier at the helm on Labour Day weekend when the Kings play three games as part of the Central Canada Hockey League Showcase weekend in Ottawa.

The new head coach of the Kings will see his club play six consecutive road games before returning to the Pembroke Memorial Centre on Sunday, Sept. 18 for its home opener against the Cumberland Grads.

The Lumber Kings get their 62-game schedule started against the Cornwall Colts on Saturday, Sept. 3 at the Bell SensPlex, before playing Hawkesbury and Brockville, the following two days. They then travel to Kemptville, Nepean and Gloucester before facing the Grads on Opening Night at the PMC.

The 2016-17 version of the Lumber Kings will begin its training camp on Aug. 19 at the Pembroke and Area Community Centre. With only 26 players invited to the camp, and many of them returning from last year's squad, there won't be a lot of decisions to make for Lumber Kings owner and general manager, Dale McTavish, who is pleased with the make-up of the team.

"We had a very strong second half of last season and with many players returning we have a solid foundation moving forward. We've signed some highly skilled players in the off-season and expect to have a club that will compete for a championship," says McTavish.

Among the players the Kings will welcome back are forward Alex Gilmour, goaltender Boyd Diclemente and last year's number one CCHL draft pick, Patrick Kyte. Head coach, Sean Crozier, expects the team to be very strong in its own end, but will continue to look for scoring.

"We have some defencemen who can move the puck and we hope to capitalize on this strength by allowing our backend players to be more aggressive offensively," says Crozier.

The Lumber Kings have been eliminated from the playoffs the past three seasons by the eventual league champion, Carleton Place Canadians. The Canadians will visit Pembroke three times this season beginning on Sunday, Nov 20.

The bulk of the Lumber Kings home games will be played on Sunday evenings, however there are two Sunday matinees on Jan. 8 and Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5, both against Carleton Place. The only other day game is on Friday, Oct. 21 when the Kings play their annual School Day game versus the Ottawa Junior Senators at 11 a.m.

Thanksgiving weekend will serve up a rare Saturday night home game as the Kings host Brockville for a 6 p.m. faceoff. On Thanksgiving Sunday, the Kings play Kanata for a traditional 7 p.m. start at the PMC. There are three Friday night games on Dec. 16 versus Nepean, Dec. 23 against Cornwall and March 10 when Nepean comes to town. The Lumber Kings close their regular season schedule on Sunday, March 12 against the Smiths Falls Bears.

Season tickets remain on sale for the 2016-17 season for the CCHL's most storied franchise. The Lumber Kings have won more league championship than any other club and are recognized as one of the most successful Junior A hockey clubs in the country.