It is known as an awards banquet but close to 200 staff, players, volunteers and fans gathered together recently at one of the largest family dinners in Powell River.
There was a distinct sense of accomplishment in St. Joseph’s Hall at Church of the Assumption last week. Even more than the crowning achievement of their fourth Coastal Conference championship in a row, officials wanted to celebrate the success and commitment of the Powell River Kings’ faithful.
Powell River is easily the dominant franchise on the coast and speaker Doug McCormick was proud to remind his audience of the fact. “We’ve now turned over an entire team and to maintain our status is an incredible accomplishment by our coaching staff.” He drew loud cheers and applause when he said, “The key thing that we did five years ago was to bring Kent [Lewis] back into our group. I want to thank Kent, wife Jennifer and the Lewis family for all the things that they do for Powell River Kings hockey.”
His list of thank yous went on to include the coaching staff, sales personnel, trainers, announcement booth and volunteer bus drivers, team doctors, physiotherapists, yoga instructor, dentist, scouts, recruiters, billet families and the entire army of game-day people.
“My intention here,” he explained, of his lengthy list of acknowledgements, “is to have an understanding for what it really takes for this to happen. We just couldn’t be successful without our dedicated staff and volunteers.”
Lewis, general manager and head coach, said, “This is the easiest ownership group I’ve ever worked for. We’ve got a lot of owners,” he said of the over 200-strong society members, “but they’re so dedicated.”
He deflected some of the praise to his assistant coaches Chad van Diemen and Geoff Grimwood saying, “They do all the work, get out on the road. I’m just the fat hot dog who sits at the [Powell River Recreation] Complex for 80 hours a week and reaps the benefits of two guys working their rear ends off recruiting.”
In thanking the rest of his staff Lewis said, “The bottom line is we are family. We don’t have a bunch of egos and I know I’m corny. I watched Little House on the Prairie all the time when I was a kid.”
After further kibitzing, several good laughs and compliments to his team for another 40-win season and BC Hockey League (BCHL) best defensive record, Lewis and his assistant coaches got down to the business of handing out the awards.
The big winner was all-star defenceman Craig Dalrymple who will leave the team and join Ohio State Buckeyes next year. “Coming out here has been the best decision I ever made,” said Dalrymple, “and my billets Dave, Sonia, Krista and Curtis [Csuk] have been the best to me and these have been the best years of my life.”
As several players move on others, like defenceman Jordan Benton, will return for a run at a fifth consecutive coastal title and help the Kings secure a spot at the new Western Canada Cup in Nanaimo.
This is the last year for the Doyle Cup (BCHL versus Alberta Junior Hockey League) and next year BCHL, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba junior hockey leagues will join host Nanaimo to play for two spots in the Royal Bank Cup.
“I thought I was a good puck-moving defenceman” said Benton, winner of the Most Improved Player award, “but out here it was a quicker game and now I’m better defensively than I was before.”
Looking ahead he said, “We need to get that done and win the BCHL championship next year.”
The drive for five is alive.
Centre Stephen Hiff, great-grandnephew of Father David Bauer, has committed to the Kings next year. The Cambridge, Ontario native, played for triple-A midget for Notre Dame Argos in Wilcox, Saskatchewan last year. He is five feet 11 inches tall, weighs 180 pounds and was born January 19, 1994.