By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – River Kings superfan Brock Kirkman has two words for the hockey gods: thank you.
A new era for his favourite local hockey club has emerged with some familiar faces and a fresh logo.
He has never missed a game – or a chance to run the other team down for all three periods.
“I’m ecstatic that we’ve got our team back and many more road trips ahead,” said Kirkman.
The Cornwall River Kings, the only Ontario outfit out of eight teams in the Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey, was rescued by local realtor Brock Frost.
NAHL commissioner Michel Godin in a statement on the team’s social media page, said that the league does not want to lose their Cornwall market and it is with optimism that the return of the River Kings was allowed.
The city council candidate officially took ownership of the semi-pro hockey team on June 9. At a press conference four days later, Mitch Gagne was named the team’s new general manager. Al Wagar and Rick Lalonde were introduced as personal advisors to Frost.
Kirkman welcomes the decision.
“Mitch was key in bringing the River Kings here to begin with so I think it’s fitting he’s a GM and gets a crack at putting this team together,” he said.
Gagne made his fourth trade of the week on Saturday afternoon at the LNAH draft in Sorel, Quebec, re-acquiring sparkplug Anthony Pittarelli from Laval for a sixth-round pick.
“A couple key trades were made. It’s really gearing up for a good camp in early September,” said Gagne.
Cornwall added nine more players to its fold, six were from Ontario.
“Yes, the focus was on Ontario players today, but we still have another five or six guys from Quebec on our radar for training camp,” Gagne said in a media statement.
The River Kings selected Billy Ulrick, who recently finished his Jr. A career with the Cornwall Colts.
Earlier this week, the River Kings re-acquired popular defenceman Mario Joly from Laval for Jean-Francois Laplante, Nicolas Sigouin, and a 5th round pick.
Cornwall also acquired Guillaume Desbiens and James Desmarais from Jonquiere for future considerations and Anthony Mezzagno from Riviere-du-Loup in exchange for a 5th round draft pick.
Gagne says the team is coming along great and is glad to see the River Kings’ new ownership take charge. The team was sold by Bernie Villeneuve late last summer to an ownership group that could not secure lucrative advertising rights within the Ed Lumley Arena.
The Cornwall Colts control such advertising, which forced the ownership group to turn the River Kings over to the LNAH board.
“I think Frost has good intentions,” said Gagne. “He is a numbers guy and very stern, so it’s different going in this year with a structured plan of attack.”
Frost, in a statement on the team’s Facebook page, said he looks forward to working hard and to the upcoming season.
River Kings season tickets go on sale Monday.
Prices are $250 for adults and $180 for seniors and students. However, until June 30, adult ticket prices will be reduced to $225 (10% off).
“Despite what we’ve been through, we’ve led the league in attendance for the last two years,” said Kirkman.
Fans will see a new side of the River Kings when they hit the ice this fall, sporting a new logo by Cornwall-based VersaCore Tech Designs.
Here’s a complete list of River Kings draft picks from Saturday with round, player’s name, position, age, hometown and height/weight:
2014 Draft Picks
Round 4: Mathieu Leduc, D, 23, Valleyfield, QC, 6’1″ 200 lbs.
Round 5: Jason Lepine, D, 29, Cornwall, ON, 6′ 185 lbs.
Round 5: Will Colbert, D, 29, Arnprior, ON, 6’2″ 220 lbs.
Round 7: Julien Houle, LW, 22, Rouyn-Noranda, QC, 5’9″ 180 lbs.
Round 7: Anthony Courcelles, RW, 22, Laval, QC, 6’1″ 186 lbs.
Round 8: Scott Wray, LW, 34, Ottawa, ON, 5’11” 190 lbs.
Round 9: Vince Perreault, C, 24, Braeside, ON, 5’11” 192 lbs.
Round 10: Billy Ulrick, C, 24, Belleville, ON, 5’7″ 177 lbs.
Round 10: Nick Fillion, G, 25, Cornwall, ON, 5’11” 178 lbs.