The Cornwall River Kings are the city’s newest hockey team – and they’re not wasting any time in bringing big talent to the Seaway Valley.
The River Kings held their first press conference this evening to introduce owner Bernie Villeneuve, director of hockey operations Mitch Gagne, general manager Wayne Veary and head coach/assistant GM Al Wagar.
The team already made a splash in the LNAH, introducing former 1st round NHL draft pick Sasha Pokulok. The 6-foot-5, 230 lb. defenceman will be the team’s first selection at the LNAH draft on June 16.
The River Kings also unveiled their team colours – they’ll be sporting a retro Cornwall Royals look, with red/white/blue as team colours. The home jersey looks particularly sharp, as the team opted to go with an off-white colour. The team also launched a contest, asking fans and local businesses to help design a logo.
Ticket prices were also announced: Adults will pay $13, while seniors/students will pay $10. Season tickets will be available for $220 (adults) and $185 (seniors/students). Home games will be on Saturday nights.
One big draw at the box office will be Pokulok, who is from Vaudreuil-Dorion and was drafted 14th overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2005 NHL Draft. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2006 IIHF World Junior Championships.
The 26-year-old has played in the AHL and ECHL and spent the last two seasons in Germany and Croatia. Now, he has the opportunity to play in Quebec’s highest league, and less than an hour away from his family.
“I decided to come back home,” said the towering Pokulok, who is married and has two children. The thought of moving his young family once again wasn’t ideal, thus making Cornwall a perfect fit. “It’s only a 40-45 minute drive from home which is great.”
Pokulok met recently with Cornwall GM Wayne Veary and was quite impressed. “He’s been around the league for nine years so he brings quite a bit of experience,” said Pokulok, who isn’t officially a team member until the draft. “I hope they don’t change their mind,” he joked.
Veary is obviously excited to inherit a team that has made three straight trips to the league final –winning the championship in 2010-11. He even went as far as guaranteeing a championship in Cornwall, perhaps as early as next spring.
“We are going to have a hard-working team,” said Wagar, who announced that his assistant would be former CJHL coach Mike Ruest.
One thing is certain; this will be the highest level of hockey Cornwall fans have seen since the AHL’s Cornwall Aces left town in 1996. “It’s a great day for the North American Hockey League,” said LNAH president Michel Gaudin.
And it’s a great day for Cornwall hockey fans.