A new era began for Powell River Kings on May 3 when Tyler Kuntz was introduced as the new full-time head coach and general managerof the BC Hockey League franchise.
It was immediately evident that Kuntz knew the Kings roster and what he wants out of them in the 2018/2019 season.
The coach says he wants more from some players and that he is high on others.
“Ben Berard is a game-breaker,” said Kuntz. “I'm really intrigued by Kyle Kawamura and Ben Thomas up front; they have some assets to bring.”
Entering his third season with the green and gold, Berard was the only King to crack the top 20 in BCHL scoring, finishing in seventh spot in the regular season and playoffs.
Kuntz, a defender in his playing days with BCHL’s Burnaby (now Alberni Valley) Bulldogs for one season in 1998/1999 before joining UBC for a five-year university hockey career, is looking to Andy Stevens as a key player on the blueline.
“Stevens can be an elite player in this league,” said Kuntz.
The key to winning is goaltending, according to Kuntz, and the Kings have one of best tandems between the pipes in the league, with Mitch Adamyk and Matteo Paler-Chow.
“For me it starts with that,” said Kuntz, who has not wasted any time recruiting new talent.
In less than a week since taking over the job, Powell River has signed 2001-born, 6’2”, 165-pound defender Ben Wozney from the Burnaby Winter Club and Matt Fawcett from Lincoln, Rhode Island. Fawcett is a two-way forward who spent the last three seasons at Winchendon Prep School in Massachusetts, where he scored 71 goals and 164 points in 82 games.
Kuntz has high expectations for players who make his team and wants the Kings to have the best player-development program in the BCHL, and in Canada for Junior A hockey.
“We'll be extremely demanding,” said Kuntz. “I'm going to bring in extreme intensity and a work ethic that will be unmatched; we're going to have to support the kids and provide a safe environment for them when they come here.”
Kings also announced that Brock Sawyer will remain with the club as full-time assistant coach and general manager, with expanded marketing duties. Sawyer took over from former Kings coach Kent Lewis in January and led the team to the BCHL semifinals before losing to Prince George Spruce Kings four games to one in a best-of-seven series.
“I'm excited; it’s a great opportunity for me hockey-wise and life wise,” said Sawyer. “I went to school for business and marketing is my specialization.”