The Prince George Spruce Kings are adding some experience to its roster, while also providing a pair of regional WHL players the chance to hit the ice before the holiday season.
Today (Oct. 27), the Prince George Cougars agreed to loan forward Connor Bowie and defenceman Aiden Reeves across town to the Kings’ castle up until Dec. 20, meaning they’ll be able to play the remainder of the cohort preseason and the start of the 2020-21 year on Dec. 1.
On Friday (Oct. 23), the WHL granted a temporary player transfer deal with junior ‘A’, junior ‘B’ and Under-18 teams across its jurisdiction to help athletes continue their skill development as COVID-19 has delayed its season start to Jan. 8, 2021.
In working with local health authorities, the league says players are expected to report for training camp after Christmas.
Cougars' players are tentatively scheduled to travel to Prince George on Boxing Day (Dec. 26), followed by an abbreviated training camp and possibly take part in a few exhibition games.
"Both players will add experience and leadership to our group and they both know that this is a good opportunity individually for them to continue their development as players," said Spruce Kings General Manager Mike Hawes in a team release, while also thanking Mark Lamb, his counterpart with the Cougars, for his cooperation.
"Connor and Aiden both call northern B.C. home. It is always nice to be able to add northern B.C. players. It was also important to me that we had two open roster spots and that we did not have to release a player to make room for Connor and Aiden."
The latest move is one of many adjustments the Spruce Kings have had to make prior to the new BCHL campaign, including bringing on three goaltenders, to avoid any risk of being shorthanded on the bench.
"It is going to be important this season for us to carry 25 rostered players," Hawes explains.
"Due to cohort restrictions, it is difficult to utilize affiliate players in our games when we have injuries, therefore carrying 25 players is vital."
Bowie tallied a WHL career-high 23 points in 62 games last season with the Cougars.
The 19-year-old from Fort St. John recorded 12 goals, including two game-winners, 11 assists and 100 shots on net in his sophomore season before COVID-19 cancelled the rest.
Reeves became the first player to sign with the Prince George Cougars after developing through its partnership with the Cariboo Hockey program on Sept. 5, 2019.
On the blue line, the 18-year-old Prince George product registered one point in 12 games with the Cats, but also suited up in seven games with the Spruce Kings in 2019-20.
Before making the jump, Reeves scored 15 points in 20 games with the Cariboo Cougars.
The Spruce Kings are currently on its two-week quarantine break between exhibition games, with their next one slated for Saturday, Nov. 7 against Merritt.
This is set to be the second and final contest at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena before the Dec. 1 season-start date and will be the fourth of five meetings with the Centennials.