When Powell River Regals take to the ice against Rossland Warriors at Hap Parker Arena on Friday, November 29, a new era begins. With a roster stocked with local players, the team is building toward being competitive again at the provincial level.
The hockey club has an uphill battle to reach previous highs, which include multiple provincial and national titles from the mid-1960s through 2010, but icing a team of talent developed in the Powell River Minor Hockey Association system is a good place to start. Each of those players will draw fans, whether friends or family members, and the large contingent of alumni players who live in Powell River can always be counted on for support. Former players are typically curious about who is wearing their number, and never miss an opportunity to reminisce and catch up with former teammates.
To engage and draw new fans, the team needs a regular presence in the community; a home game here or there is not enough to hold the interest of the average fan, who might need to be educated about the compelling history of the club since the number of home games has waned over the years.
That could change in the next few weeks as the Regals strive to reconnect with fans. With a second game against Rossland Saturday, November 30, followed by matchups at home against Vancouver Island University on December 7 and Kelowna on December 14 and 15, Regals have an opportunity to build momentum, on and off the ice.
16-year veteran Joe Caldarone will lead a young team that includes 11 rookies. Caldarone started when the team was regularly contending for and winning Allan Cup Canadian championships at the AAA level. The Coy Cup, emblematic of AA supremacy in the BC, is now the goal. The team hopes to raise it again, this time with new faces but familiar names in the local hockey community.
Previous incarnations of the team did not achieve success overnight, and current players will face the same obstacles and pitfalls along the way. Regal teams of the 1960s overcame several disappointing losses in provincial playoffs before finally winning the Coy Cup, and later the Hardy Cup national championship.
The Regals of the 1980s were perennial runners-up before breaking through with a long-sought-after Coy Cup win in 1993 and eventually moving up to dominate at the AAA level for more than a decade. Core players from that roster were born and raised in Powell River. Look at what they accomplished.
The same is possible for this next group; they only need to take the same steps as their predecessors.
Game times are 7:15 pm. Will you be there?