Prince George’s most successful junior hockey team returned home this evening (April 18) and they brought a special friend with them as well.
The Spruce Kings hoisted their first ever Fred Page Cup at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena (RMCA) accompanied by cheers from fans that welcomed them back from sweeping the B.C. Hockey League (BCHL) Championship series in Vernon on Wednesday (April 17).
The players and coaches were all smiles and appeared relieved after stepping off the bus as they travelled great distances throughout the playoffs to (finally) capture the franchise’s first title since joining the BCHL 23 years ago.
Loyal fans and local residents braved the wet conditions to hug their heroes and not only get a glimpse of the trophy, but take the Fred Page Cup and lift it themselves much to the surprise of Spruce Kings’ Captain Ben Poisson.
“Yeah, no one really expected that,” he said to PrinceGeorgeMatters. “We were told there was going to be a big crowd here, but we didn’t see that coming. It was just so awesome to see; we were really excited to see how much the fans were really excited to see the Cup.”
Wet weather didn't hold back the @SpruceKings & their fans from celebrating as the team returned to the RMCA today with the Fred Page Cup in board 🏆 | https://t.co/YpV4FDBQ75 #CityOfPG @GoBCHL @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/q8Vwedsmnl— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) April 19, 2019
The 20-year-old veteran scored a goal in the Cup-clinching game and said his teammates really knew how to keep their composure when Vernon gave them a 2-1 scare late in the contest.
“We had a game plan and we stuck with it. We knew exactly what we needed to win and it was good. Everyone was on the same page and it worked out for us,” Poisson explained. “All the returning guys had a chip on their shoulder from losing last year [in the Final] and them wanting to win. I didn’t really get to play much last year because of an injury, and so it was awesome to have that opportunity to wear the ‘C’ and win it all this year.”
“We’re a band of brothers. Everyone is so tight, everyone is on the same mission, everyone just loves each other, and that’s what makes this team so great to be a part of,” said Poisson, and when asked about playing for the Doyle Cup despite already getting a spot in the 2019 National Junior ‘A’ Championship, he said the team wants to add more hardware to the collection.
“We think it’s still important for us,” Poisson said without hesitation. “We want to win that one too and we want to win the one after that in Brooks [Alberta]. If we can collect all three trophies, that obviously would be our endgame.”
Regardless of what happens, Prince George will get to host two more home games at the RMCA before the end of the season.
.@SpruceKings are BCHL champs for the 1st time since joining the league in ‘96 🏆 Despite an auto-invite to @HC_NJAC, they’ll still play the best-of-7 regional championship against @BrooksBandits, known as the Doyle Cup | https://t.co/m5EyhvDPVu #CityOfPG @GoBCHL @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/bHEawYwzbD— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) April 18, 2019