Lumber Kings getting ready for big season
Sean Chase/Daily Observer Members of the Pembroke Lumber Kings and Junior 'B' Whitewater Kings warm up with laps at Bishop Smith Catholic High School during a training camp session on Wednesday. The Lumber Kings open the 2017-18 campaign Sunday with an exhibition game at the Pembroke and Area Community Centre.
After taking the summer to regroup after a disappointing season, the Pembroke Lumber Kings were back on the ice this week preparing for a new campaign that will hopefully lead them to the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) playoffs.
Training camp for the junior 'A' hockey team commenced at the Pembroke and Area Community Centre with orientation meetings, conditioning, fitness testing, and on-ice drills. Owner and head coach Dale McTavish said he and the staff have determined about 99 per cent of the final cut.
“I'm happy with what we have here,” said McTavish after watching his players run some laps at Bishop Smith Catholic High School.
The Lumber Kings will have 10 veteran players returning from last year’s team including forwards Matt Barnaby, Brendan Browne and goaltender Jake Smith. The Kings will be aiming to erase memories of last season, which saw them eliminated from the playoffs making this the first time since the 2003-04 season that Pembroke has not qualified for the post season.
However, the team will also have to defy low expectations. Recently, the league released a poll of media organizations that predicted a 12th place finish for Pembroke. McTavish said that will provide great motivation for his squad in proving the pundits wrong.
“The standard is higher for myself and the team than what obviously happened last year,” he said. “We remember it but we're looking forward.”
This week's came also included members of the new Whitewater Kings of the CCHL2. McTavish said this will be the common practice during the next season to have both squads training together. He added that this will make the squad more effective as Junior 'B' players will know what will be expected of them when they are called up to the main roster.
“We're really happy with their work ethic this week,” he added. “I think they will fit in really well.”
The Whitewater Kings, previously the Prescott Flyers, were purchased by McTavish this past spring. The team will kick off its inaugural season at Cobden's Astrolab Arena with the home opener on Sept. 16 against the Renfrew Timberwolves.
“The support has been really good in Cobden,” noted McTavish. “We'll have access to many more players, especially players who are on the cusp or are a year away.”
The Lumber Kings will play five exhibition games, three of which will be at home, beginning on Sunday at the Pembroke and Area Community Centre when they meet the Nepean Raiders. The Kings will host Smiths Falls on Thursday, Aug. 24 and Carleton Place on Sunday, Aug. 27 before starting their regular season. The Kings' play their home opener on Sunday, Sept. 17 against the Brockville Braves.