With great power comes great responsibility.
That is the case for first year head coach Adam Maglio who will guide the Prince George Spruce Kings into the 2017-18 BCHL season against the arch-rival Chilliwack Chiefs Friday and Saturday at 7 pm from the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.
Maglio took over the job during the spring after Chad van Diemen stepped down for personal reasons following the team’s hard fought first round series against the Wenatchee Wild where they fell in six games.
He and the players are anxious to finally lift the curtain on home ice. “We are excited and I think our team as a group is prepared, we’re ready but now we just want to play hockey. I think for our guys it’s using that excitement and controlling their emotions and coming out with a competitive fire because Chilliwack is a big divisional rival for us.”
The Spruce Kings went 2-4-1-0 against the high-flying Chiefs last season only getting outscored by a 28-22 margin in those seven games.
Those results include a 3-2 victory in Chilliwack along with a 4-1 victory and a 6-5 double overtime loss on home ice.
Maglio feels the gap closed considerably last season when both teams hit the ice. “We broke some barriers last year against Chilliwack. I know our team in the past didn’t have the success they wanted to but I think last year we would have wanted a little bit of a better record but I think we are confident playing them.”
“Beating them at home was a big boost for our guys but it’s a new year and a new team so we are going to have build our own identity starting tomorrow (Friday),” Maglio says.
Prince George will also enter the season with a new leadership group that includes 19-year old forward Kyle Johnson who will be wearing the “C”.
Johnson says the gradual rise since his rookie season two years ago has helped him come full circle.
“Year one was a rebuilding and young team so obviously the roles weren’t very static as they changed all the time but in year two it was kind of nice being a supporting role player and play under Brett Mennear as the second line centre and kind of watch him and the way he approached things. I feel like myself and the core guys that have been here for a couple of seasons believe it is our turn to lead the way and were all really excited about it because it is a new challenge.”
The opening weekend games will also mark the return of Prince George native and former Spruce King Bryan Allbee who was dealt to the Chiefs in August.
Prince George begins the season with a four game home stand that will continue September 15 and 16 against the Surrey Eagles.
With files from Brendan Pawliw, My Prince George Now.