At the beginning of the BC Hockey League (BCHL) season, Powell River Kings set out to be involved even more deeply with the community. It’s mission accomplished, according to Kings’ marketing and promotions director Corinne Williams.
“My goal this year was to reconnect with the community, which I think we accomplished very well,” said Williams. “We partnered with businesses to show support for other nonprofit organizations this year, and we wanted to make sure we recognized our volunteers, without whom we couldn’t continue, and our longtime fans.”
Williams said at the opening game of the 2022/2023 season, longtime fan and supporter Hedley Ball dropped the puck to open the season. He was at one of the Kings’ very first games, played against Nanaimo.
She said the team ensured this season to provide a special thank-you to the many volunteers, so at every home game, volunteers have been added into the program. The Kings have signed cards for them and there has been acknowledgement on the arena’s video board.
“We are able to say thank you because without our volunteers, we would not be able to make this happen,” said Williams.
She said the support from the business community is appreciated, because that support has been instrumental in the success of the team. Williams said, for example, that 20 businesses donated $300 so the team could have a free game, and 1,150 people turned out. Anyone attending had to donate to Powell River Action Centre Food Bank.
“The food bank came and they had their van outside,” said Williams. “They had to leave because the van was full to the very top with donations. They said the van has never been so full.”
Williams said the team started the year by heading to Tla’amin Nation for a team-building day. They were taught how to make bark bracelets and were gifted orange shirts, which they wore on the ferry on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30).
“People really noticed and people had pictures taken, so that was super,” added Williams.
Team members also went out and helped with the Tla’amin youth group, where they interacted and signed some mementos. They played some floor hockey as well.
The team also played a road hockey game with the Salvation Army at the beginning of the year, to raise funds. Later in the year, the Kings took part in Christmas Cheer. Williams said players dropped off signed sticks to be auctioned off.
The team partnered with Townsite Brewing for its teddy bear toss, which raised funds that Waypoint Insurance ended up matching, so a donation was made to Christmas Cheer, and families were helped with the funds raised.
The Kings partnered with the foster parents group, and First Credit Union paid for tickets for a hockey game. Panago Pizza was also involved, said Williams.
The Rotary Club of Powell River conducted a tailgate party during the season.
The Kings also had a floor hockey game against Special Olympics athletes, and the Special Olympics team won, according to Williams.
The team recognized billet families, without whom the Kings could not carry on. Williams said the players and billets often become family and develop long-term relationships. She said the hockey club will be looking for billets for next season to make sure all players are accommodated.
“I feel like our team this year accomplished all the goals we wanted to accomplish, reconnecting with the community,” said Williams.
Kings will continue to play beyond the regular season, having made the playoffs this year. The team did not make the playoffs last season, and the year previous was hampered by COVID-19.
Williams said the opposition is unknown at this time.
“This year during the playoffs, I would love to see the community out and fill our seats, and make some noise for our players,” said Williams.
For the first playoff game, Royal LePage Powell River will be hosting a tailgate party and raising funds for Grace House, according to Williams.
“There will be a food truck and music outside; it will be amazing,” she said.
Sunshine Coast Wellness Centre has donated funds for the second playoff game, so fans 12 and younger will get in free.
“It’s been a really good year,” said Williams. “I wanted to bring recognition about what is important to the group on the ice. I love to see people in the stands to show support.”
Williams said at the end of the season, some of the players will be leaving, and eight have commitments to post-secondary education institutions.
“I would love to see them be able to go out on a really high note,” she added.
Kings wrap up the home portion of their BCHL regular season schedule with a pair of home games versus Cowichan Valley Capitals. Game times are 7 pm tonight (March 17) and 5 pm tomorrow (March 18) at Hap Parker Arena.