Officials with Cornwall's newest hockey franchise are looking to the present and honouring the past as they embrace the future of minor pro hockey in the city.
With a nod to the glory days of the Cornwall Royals, the new Cornwall River Kings were introduced at a press conference Thursday at the Ed Lumley Arena.
The River Kings will play in the Ligue Nord-Americane de Hockey (LNAH), a Quebec-based minor pro league that includes teams in Sorel, Thetford Mines and Rivier-du-Loup, among other locales.
“We’ve been working on this project since December, and it’s with great pride we’re able to make it official once and for all,” said Nicolas Pelletier, the team’s communication director.
Ticket packages will be available starting Monday, with season ticket prices set at $220 for adults and $185 for seniors and students.
Individual game tickets will cost $13 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.
The team will play most of its games Saturday nights, in order to ensure the current tenants at the Ed Lumley Arena, the Cornwall Colts, can maintain their Thursday night scheduling.
River King officials were quick to embrace what they hope will be a long-lasting relationship with the Colts and Coun. David Murphy told those at the press conference he's hopeful a new addition to Cornwall's hockey family will be welcomed by everyone.
"I have no doubt that the City of Cornwall has the hockey fans" to support two teams, he said.
The River Kings honoured the glory days of the Cornwall Royals by choosing uniforms that look just like those of the former major junior team that won three Memorial Cups.
A logo contest is being created to help finish off the jerseys that include red, blue and an off-white.
The city confirmed a one-year deal — terms weren’t disclosed — that the club has signed to play at Ed Lumley Arena, but expect the River Kings to be around much longer than that, said team and league officials.
"I think it's going to be a long process," said Mitch Gagne, the River Kings marketing manager. "I think it's going to be a long-lasting (relationship)."
Maxville’s Bernie Villeneuve, a partner at the ownership level with Villeneuve Milk Transport Ltd., was introduced as the team's owner.
“When I first saw the (LNAH calibre of hockey), I was stunned,” Villeneuve said. “It turned my head. I thought if something like that came to Cornwall, it would be a real virtue.”
Villeneuve and the Cornwall group purchased the Windsor Wild from the Sherbrooke area that just lost to Thetford Mines in the league’s playoff final.
The River Kings unveiled their upcoming first-round draft pick, former first-round (14th overall) Washington Capitals selection Sasha Pokulok, who skated for Team Canada in the 2006 World Junior Hockey Championships.
The LNAH has a reputation of being tough, with plenty of big names competing in the loop over the years, including Stephane Richer and Donald Brashear.
Former Cornwall Colts owner Al Wagar was introduced as the team's coach.