This isn’t just your ordinary “home opener.”

The Prince George Spruce Kings, who had many memorable nights in the 2018-19 season, will enjoy another “special” evening when they host the Surrey Eagles tonight in the first of their 58 games on the menu.

Not one, but their only two championship banners (Fred Page Cup and Doyle Cup) will be raised prior to puck drop.

The Spruce Kings may not have a full house with a playoff-like atmosphere but more than 1,000 fans will be on hand to applaud the team for reaching the Canadian Jr. A championship game in May, as well as to get an early preview about the talent on the 2019-20 edition of the team.

Make no mistake about it this will be a different Spruce Kings team with many new faces.

Okay, they may not go 16-1 in the BCHL playoffs or even repeat as champions, but the Spruce Kings have changed the culture over the past two seasons, which means the expectations are to win and not just be a middle of the pack team.

GM Mike Hawes, knowing he had a large number of roster spots open, was able to recruit many players that will be headed to the NCAA once their junior careers are over.

For most of their 23 years in the BCHL, highly skilled players weren’t that interested in coming to Prince George to wear a Spruce Kings jersey.

The main reason was quite simple; the team struggled with several seasons at or near the bottom of the standings.

After back-to-back appearances in the BCHL Fred Page Cup final, scouts, players and recruiters have taken notice that the Spruce Kings have turned the corner.

Now, with the reputation change, very good players are excited about the prospects of playing in Prince George.

One may need a program to try to keep track of who’s who on this season’s roster.

They only have five players that were with the team on a full-time basis last season: defenceman Nick Bochen plus their new Captain Nolan Welsh, and three other forwards, Corey Cunningham, Chong Min Lee and Nicholas Poisson, who scored in all six of the PG games at the national championship in Brooks, Alberta.

The Spruce Kings should be in good in hands in net for a third-straight season.

20-year-old Jett Alexander wanted a trade from the rebuilding North York Rangers and PG fit the bill perfectly.

All you need to know about Alexander is that he was “Great” in being named the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s top goalie last season.

The Spruce Kings have a new head coach (Alex Evin), new assistant coaches (Jessie Leung and Nick Drazenovic), a new athletic therapist/trainer (David Rowe) and 18 new players but championship teams don’t rebuild, they just retool.


FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

Former NHL forward Darren McCarty says marijuana “saved his life,” which probably just clinched him the first Lady Bong Trophy.

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

Four-time Stanley Cup winner Darren McCarty says pot “saved his life,” which is just good he didn’t win a fifth championship or the Stanley Cup may have been turned into the Stanley bong.

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

Rob Gronkowski said, “Football was bringing me down.” Does this make him an honorary Washington Redskins fan?

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

Centre Mallory McGwire, the niece of former slugger Mark McGwire, has transferred from the Oregon women’s basketball team to Boise State but offers no explanation as to why. She says she is not here to talk about the past.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

The top three reasons why a Bethany College men’s golf squad posed nude for a team photo:
3. It beat studying;
2. They like to hang out together;
1. Didn’t fully understand the Skins concept.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

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Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor 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