Sports

Kings home opener this weekend

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

The Pembroke Lumber Kings are finally home.

Playing .500 hockey on the road, the Kings will take on the Brockville Braves in the regular season home opener Sunday night at the Pembroke Memorial Centre. The puck drops at 7 p.m.

“It's nice to get back home and get the hometown crowd going,” Kings owner and head coach Dale McTavish said Thursday.

While a 5-0 record would've been a better present to bring home to the PMC crowd, McTavish believes they've had a good start with a 3-2 record which places them currently in fourth place of the Robinson Division of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL).

“I've been happy with the effort, the attitude and the coachability of the players,” he added. “The work ethic has been there so I see us getting better as the year goes on.”

Although it's very early in the 2017-18 campaign, the Kings are proving to be a more disciplined squad taking less penalties which were costly last season. In fact, the team's penalty minutes are the lowest in the league. The skaters are also generating more offence putting more goals in the net than any other team with 26 so far. However, another statistic they would like to erase is the goals against, which is also the highest in the CCHL, at 21. But McTavish is pleased with how special teams have reacted on both the penalty kill and the power play.

“We have tighten up defensively as a five-man group and we can definitely do that,” noted the coach. “Everyone has to just buy in and be consistent.”

As with any off-season, the Kings lost veterans, such as Patrick Kyte, Mitch Culver, Justin Felhaber and D'Andre John, over the summer, however, the rookies have stepped up thus far, noted McTavish.

“We've got players who we thought would be a really good fit and we have players with good hockey sense who have competed and worked really hard,” he said.

In anticipation of the home opener, activities will begin in the parking lot of the Pembroke Memorial Centre, located off ‘Lumber King Way’ on Lake Street. At 6 p.m., a Doors Open Party will commence. There will be music while Skyza Ottawa Valley providing kids with the last ‘kick at summer’ with their inflatable bubble balls, very appropriate for this weekend’s forecast. At the door, under the red tent will be the sign-up area for the new Kings Kids Club, a free membership with all the perks. For the first 200 attendees through the doors, Hyundai Pembroke will be handing out sunglasses.

On site, a merchandise shop will be open featuring official Lumber Kings' hockey jerseys, Kings caps, the new PLK hoodie and CCM Jackets. Kids can play a game of mini stick hockey, while youth can enjoy a 45-second of ‘ice’ time with our new virtual realty hockey game. In the Courtyard, the Hyundai Pembroke photo booth will be set up offering $500 Hyundai Pembroke vehicle coupons. Tickets for the game are available at the door for $12 per adult, $10 per senior or student and $6 for children under 13.

Also this weekend, the Whitewater Kings off the Central Canada Hockey League 2, the Junior B affiliate of the Lumber Kings, will also host their inaugural home opener. Game time at the Astrolabe Arena in Cobden is 7 p.m. on Saturday evening against the Renfrew Timberwolves. The pre-game festivities will include the ceremonial puck drop by members of Whitewater Region Township and fans are encouraged to stick around after the game for a free concert by Canadian singer-songwriter Washboard Hank in the upstairs hall of the arena. The doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets are only available at the door so get there early to make sure you witness the start of Junior B hockey in Whitewater.

SChase@postmedia.com