The Pembroke Lumber Kings are a Junior “A” ice hockey team from Pembroke, Ontario, Canada. They are a part of the Central Canada Hockey League and are the winningest team in CCHL (formerly CJHL) history as well as 2011 Royal Bank Cup National Junior A Champions. Some notable graduates of the Lumber Kings include: Dainius Zubrus who played for several NHL teams and was drafted 15th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers, following the 1995-96 season in which he played for the Lumber Kings; Mike Eastwood – a former member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Peter White – a former member of the Philadelphia Flyers and who continues to hold the CCHL record for accumulating 226 points in a single season. They had the longest running junior hockey club in Eastern Ontario having played in several leagues throughout their history including the Intermediate Junior Hockey League, the Upper Ottawa Valley Hockey League and the Ottawa Junior Hockey League where the team was known as the Junior Lumber Kings and the Pembroke Little Lumber Kings.
The Pembroke Lumber Kings finished 4th in their first year under new ownership. Pembroke defeated Brockville 4 games to 2, in their many playoff meetings in recent years. Pembroke lost the semi-finals to the eventual CCHL champions Carleton Place Canadians 4 games to 3.
The Pembroke Lumber Kings didn’t have many players left from the championship team, and wound up finishing 4th overall. They would face off against the #5 Nepean Raiders for the 7th playoff meeting since 2004. Nepean won the series 4 games to 0, and the Pembroke Lumber Kings were sold to Dale McTavish, who became the head coach in the spring.
The Pembroke Lumber Kings raised their championship banner, and retired #8 which belonged to Ben Reinhardt. Pembroke was destined to return to the CCHL finals, but wound up finishing 6th and played #3 Brockville, and won the series 4 games to 2. Pembroke faced off against the Nepean, where the Lumber Kings held a 3-1 series lead. However, they would lose 3-straight giving the Nepean Raiders the series, who would go on to win the Art Bogart Cup. In early December, Head Coach Sheldon Keefe accepted a head coach position with the Soo Greyhounds.
The Pembroke Lumber Kings finished the season as the top team in the CJHL and ranked 7th in the country. The first two playoff rounds saw the Lumber Kings easily defeat the Smiths Falls Bears and Gloucester Rangers winning both series 4-0. The Lumber Kings would face the Cornwall Colts in the CJHL championship series. This series pitted two of Canada’s top junior A hockey programs against one another, and it would not disappoint. After each team protected their home ice through game 5, the Lumber Kings would finally finish off the Colts in game 6 and win an unprecedented 5th straight Art Bogart Trophy. The Lumber Kings moved on to the Fred Page Cup tournament where they won for the first time since 2007, defeating the Longueuil College Francais 6-3 and moving on to the 2011 Royal Bank Cup.
After going a dismal 1 win and 3 losses in the round robin, the Pembroke Lumber Kings defeated the 3-1 hosts Camrose Kodiaks by a score of 4-2 to make their first ever final since the beginning of the round robin format. In the final, the Lumber Kings drew the 2-time running National Champion Vernon Vipers who were 5-0 thus far in the tournament. At the end of the first, Vernon outshot Pembroke 15-5 but the score was 0-0. After the second, Pembroke led in shots 15-11 and yet the score was still 0-0. In the third, Pembroke’s Jonathon Milley scored on a clear-cut breakaway to take the lead. Milley scored a late empty-netter to clinch the game. Pembroke’s Francis Dupuis stopped 40 shots for the shutout win. Pembroke’s victory is the first for any member of the Central Canada Hockey League since the Rockland Nationals won the 1976 Centennial Cup.
Captain Ben Reinhardt played his fifth and final season of Lumber Kings Jr. hockey in 2010-11, finishing with five CCHL championships, two Eastern Canada Fred Page Cups, and the 2011 Royal Bank Cup National Championship.
The 2008–09 season saw some very strange events in CJHL trades. Starting goaltender Eric Levine was traded to the Hawkesbury Hawks for highly recruited scorer Jacob Laliberte; after Levine’s successor John Griggs could not perform up to expectations, he was dealt to the Cumberland Grads. Soon after, head coach Sheldon Keefe reacquired Levine from the struggling Hawks. The Lumber Kings then traded for Cornwall Colts captain Damian Cross to add scoring depth. The trades worked brilliantly, as the Lumber Kings won their third-consecutive Art Bogart Cup over the Nepean Raiders. Cross scored the game-winner in overtime and Eric Levine put on one of the greatest goaltending performances in recent CJHL history.
In June 2005, the City of Pembroke, which is known as “Hockeytown” was awarded the 2006 Fred Page Cup. Owner Sheldon Keefe was appointed assistant coach to Kevin Abrams. The Pembroke Lumber Kings immediately placed first overall and eventually first in the Canadian Junior “A” Hockey League Top 15 rankings. Despite being the strongest team in Canada, the Lumber Kings were knocked out of the semi-finals to the Nepean Raiders. The Fred Page Cup was eventually won by the Joliette Action of the Quebec Junior “AAA” Hockey League.
The Pembroke Lumber Kings had a strong cast of returning players. Head coach Kevin Abrams was appointed league commissioner over the summer of 2006. Owner and assistant coach and former NHLer Sheldon Keefe was appointed head coach. The Lumber Kings started off strong and held on to top spot in the CJHL till the end of the season. The Lumber Kings started the 2007 playoffs against the Kanata Stallions, which the Lumber Kings taking the series in an easy four-game sweep. In the semi-finals, the Lumber Kings met up with Hawkesbury Hawks and the Lumber Kings taking that series in 6 games, and the final was against their division rivals, the Nepean Raiders. With Pembroke up 3-0 in the series and needing a win on April 15, 2007 in Nepean to take the series. But the Nepean Raiders came up with a 2-1 win forcing a game 5 in Pembroke, but however, the Lumber Kings wanted to win it at home and that’s exactly what they did on the night of April 17, 2007 with a 3-1 win and capturing their first CJHL championship since 1989. The Lumber Kings travelled to St-Jerome, Quebec and started the Fred Page Cup in their quest for the Royal Bank Cup. The Lumber Kings opened the Fred Page Cup with a 2-1 overtime win over the St-Jerome Pantheres. The second game saw the defending Fred Page Cup champions Joliette Action take on the Pembroke Lumber Kings, but this time on Quebec ice. The Lumber Kings came up with a 4-1 win to take a bye to the finals. The Pembroke Lumber Kings lost the final round robin game to the Truro Bearcats 4-2, but the Bearcats still failed to qualify for the semi-finals. The Pembroke Lumber Kings awaited the semi-final winner, and the St-Jerome Panthers knocked off Joliette 3-1. The Pembroke Lumber Kings continued their road to the Royal Bank Cup defeating St-Jerome 5-2 in the finals to claim the 2007 Fred Page Cup. The Lumber Kings travelled across Canada to Prince George, British Columbia for the 2007 Royal Bank Cup at the CN Centre, which is home to the WHL’s Prince George Cougars and BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings. The opening game for the Lumber Kings at the National Jr. A Championship was against the hosts Prince George Spruce Kings, but lost 5-2. The second matchup, the Lumber Kings managed to beat the stronger houses Aurora Tigers 5-3 of the OPJHL. The Lumber Kings fell 3-0 to the also powerhouses Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL. With a 1-3 record, the Lumber Kings desperate for a birth in the semi-finals got a win over the Selkirk Steelers of the MJHL 2-1. The Pembroke Lumber Kings had a chance to appear on TSN’s broadcast of the National Jr. A Championship final with a semi-final match against the Aurora Tigers. The game tied 2-2 going into overtime, less than 3 minutes in the extra period, Darren Michalsky of the Aurora Tigers scored the winner setting up the 2007 championship final against the Prince George Spruce Kings and Pembroke road to the Royal Bank Cup ended. Since 1997, six different teams from the CJHL competing in the Royal Bank Cup lost the semi-finals and never appeared in the finals.
Sheldon Keefe recruited players deep into the United States and poaching the best U.S.-born players. The Lumber Kings roster was made up of mostly American players. This paid off as the Lumber Kings won their second-consecutive Art Bogart Cup with a 5-0 win with goals from U.S born players Brandon Richardson and Scott Wentworth over the Smiths Falls Bears in game 5. Going into the Fred Page Cup the Lumber Kings were ranked number one in all of Canada in the CJHL polls for the last month of the season and highly favored to win the 2008 RBC. However, the Lumber Kings were upset as the Fred Page Cup was won by the Pictou County Weeks Crushers of the Maritime Junior Hockey League.