On Sunday, January 5th the Pembroke Lumber Kings welcomed in the New Year with their first game of 2020. it was a stinker. The Kings lost 4-0 to the Hawkesbury Hawks, primarily because their depleted line-up had only 13 skaters, two of whom were call ups from the club’s Junior B affiliate, the Whitewater Kings.
By the third period the exhausted team was out of gas. Goaltender Reece Proulx faced more than 60 shots for the first time this season and if not for his fine netminding, the score would have been a lot worse. The cause of the short staffing was a combination of injuries, illness and suspensions, but it shone a light on the need for the team to add depth to its lineup if it hoped to make a strong push into the league playoffs which will begin in March.
A week later, on Friday, January 10th, Lumber Kings owner, head coach and general manager, Alex Armstrong, responded by making a splash at the Central Canada Hockey League trade deadline. He added four experienced players to his squad, without giving up any current players on his roster. On paper, the deals should give the Kings a big boost.
Two of the players are coming to the Kings with Major Junior experience. Dennis Golovatchev has played 26 games with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League this season and 59 games last season. His offensive numbers are light with only 10 points over that period with Kingston, but moving to the Junior A level should provide him with more ice time and a greater opportunity to contribute to the Kings offence. He’s also big, at 6 feet tall and weighing 181 pounds. That will also help with the net front presence the Kings have been missing on their second and third lines.
Sam Allison comes to Pembroke from the Brockville Braves where he had 7 goals and 19 assists in 36 games. The 20-year old Allison is no stranger to the CCHL. He has also played with Nepean and Carleton Place. His best season was in 2017-18 when he put up 49 points in 61 games with the Canadians. The Kings will be leaning on him to generate offence.
Brendan Cianflone arrives from the Flin Flon Bombers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. The 18 year old forward has garnered 26 points in 30 games for the Bombers, including 11 goals. He played 35 games last season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with Acadia-Bathurst. That major junior experience should help provide more leadership on the Kings and at almost a point a game with Flin Flon, Cianflone should also add some scoring depth.
The other addition is Joey McCollum who will strengthen an already solid blue line for the Kings and help replace defenceman Liam Enright who recently chose to leave the Kings to pursue an education at Trent University in Peterborough. McCollum had been playing with the St. Cloud Blizzard of the North American Hockey League. The 18 year old will be a big presence. He is 6 feet tall and weighs over 200 pounds. He won’t put up a lot of points, but he should be very effective at moving players out of scoring lanes in the Kings end.
The Kings also picked up a young defenceman from the Strathroy Rockets of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Ben Hofstetter just turned 17 years of age, but at six feet tall and having put up some good offensive numbers playing at the triple A Midget level, he has a lot of potential moving forward.
There is no question, the Kings are a stronger team now than they were prior to the trading deadline. Now, that the wheeling and dealing is done, the challenge for the coaching staff will be to find the right fit for the new players. There’s plenty of time to do that as the club has more than 20 games remaining in its regular season.