The Prince George Spruce Kings may or may not win another championship next year, but the team should remain competitive.

The Spruce Kings have 13 players eligible to return, plus rookie Fin Williams who joined the team late in the season.

With the cupboard far from bare, the Spruce Kings will have a solid base of players back that knows first-hand what it takes to win.

Newcomers have already been lined up to join the BCHL and Doyle Cup champions.

“Our recruiting for next year’s team has gone very well. The recruiting is always an ongoing thing. The coaches and I were still recruiting players and making phone calls all across North America while we were in Brooks for the NJAC. Of the 13 NCAA committed players on our roster we are graduating 9 of them to NCAA Division 1 programs next season. So we will have at least nine spots to fill. Most of those spots have been filled with the recruiting we have done to this point,” said Spruce Kings GM Mike Hawes in an interview with mypgnow.com.

Corey Cunningham and Craig MacDonald were the two Prince George players on the team this season and both are eligible to return.

Adding more P.G. talent is not a priority for Hawes.

“We have not recruited any other local players to next year’s team. To build a successful team in our league and at our level, you have to get the best possible players that you can. If the best available player happens to be from Prince George then great. If he happens to be from Michigan, Ontario or Connecticut then that’s fine as well.  I am not taking local players just for the sake of having local players. My job is to build the best team that I can.”

A large part of the Spruce Kings success has been in net.

Evan Debrouwer was superb in helping Prince George reach the Fred Page Cup final in 2017-18.

Logan Neaton was arguably even better in backstopping the Spruce Kings to the national final in 2018-19.

Keenan Rancier is the only goalie on the roster at the moment for next season but he only played six games as a back-up behind Neaton.

This brings up the key question of who will be the starting goalie come September?

“We are working hard right now to determine what our goaltending will look like for next season. I normally prefer to have a 19 or 20-year-old proven veteran goalie as the main guy with a very good younger guy who can really push him,” stated Hawes.

Financially, the Spruce Kings had been operating in the “red” but that may have changed with the team having a whopping total of 25 home playoff games this year and last.

“The team is doing well financially. The continued support of the community in regards to our show home lottery and other lotteries as well as the tremendous support we have seen during our long playoff runs the past two years has resulted in some good years revenue wise for the organization. We are very stable financially and as a result, we are able to run the team in a way that we can attract high-end talented players” stated Hawes. who did not say whether the good fortune on the ice has translated to the team now operating in the “black”.

“Hawzy” turns 50 this year.

He has been with the Spruce Kings since the 2005/06 season and in his current role as general manager since the 2010/11 season.

Hawes is under contract for two more years.

If he is looking for a raise or an extension, his bargaining power has never been better.

How did he celebrate this season’s success?

Let’s just say very low-key.

“The best part of the celebrations for me are when we get all the coaches, trainers, board members and all of our families together after winning a championship, have some beers and talk about the accomplishment. We all got together for a celebration at my house after we won the Fred Page Cup. The majority of the night you could hear people say “Who would have thunk it”. Reason being, there have been so many doubters over the years. A lot of people throughout the BCHL, a lot people throughout the hockey world, a lot of people even in our own backyard here in PG that never would have thought that the Spruce Kings would be able to build a team that could run with the big dogs. I’m happy for the group and proud of our accomplishments. Not only can we run with the big dogs, but it sure feels good to be the top dog in the BCHL after all of these years of work.”

It is one thing to get to the top and be that top dog, yet it’s another to stay there.

That’s the new challenge the Spruce Kings face, one they welcome with open arms.


FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

The NFL and it’s player’s union are studying the use of pot for pain management. They’re taking it on together as a “joint” effort.

*Comedy writer Jim Barach http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/

Russell Wilson, who just signed a four-year $140-million contract, with a $65-million signing bonus, bought his mom a house for Mother’s Day. Wilson didn’t say where the house is, but we know it’s not in San Francisco. He’d have needed a bigger contract.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

Ex-pitcher-turned-accountant Benjamin Hendrickson, 38, has pleaded guilty to swindling $145,000 by cooking the books in two business transactions.

Remember when ballplayers were simply content with just stealing second base?

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Canadian golfer Brooke Henderson said she’d use a different club at the Pure Silk Championship to improve a disappointing year on the greens. If that’s a recipe for success, the proof is in the putting.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

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Hartley Miller is the sports director and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca.
Follow him on Twitter: @Hartley_Miller
Listen to him on his podcast: Hartley’s Cat Scan.