COMOX VALLEY, B.C. – With a 4-29-1-1 record thus far, the rookie-laden Comox Valley Glacier Kings are hanging onto little victories this season.
One of them (or three to be precise): the play of newly named captain Damian Rennie, Jordan Neufeld and goaltender Matthias Smith.
Forwards Rennie and Neufeld along with Smith were named to both the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s (VIJHL’S) U18 Prospect all-star roster and the VIJHL all-star game.
The all-star game is Sunday, Jan. 20 at Rod Brind’Amour Arena in Campbell River. Opening puck drop is 4:00 p.m.
The VIJHL Prospects game is Jan. 27 in Saanich. The league’s top 16- to- 18-year-olds will in in action.
Rennie, Neufeld and Smith will play for the North Team against the South Team.
Rennie ‘obvious choice’ for captain
After former captain Finn Withey graduated to the junior A ranks with the Canmore Eagles of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, Rennie took the reins as both a leader and the team’s leading scorer, with 12 goals and 20 points.
Glacier Kings head coach Jordan Kamprath spoke about his reasoning behind attaching to the coveted ‘C’ to Rennie’s jersey.
“I’ve been talking to the assistant coaches for quite a while, ever since Finn left,” Glacier Kings head coach Jordan Kamprath said. “Basically we needed some leadership with the team. Especially with such a young team, we needed to go with somebody who was stepping up and taking that role.”
Kamprath said Rennie stood out as an “obvious” choice. “He was working hard on and off the ice, he was showing up to team events, he was positive in the dressing room, positive on the ice… with the record that we have and the young core, he was always showing up and giving 110 percent and not quitting.”
Neufeld, meanwhile, sits third in team scoring with five goals and 18 points.
“They all deserve it,” Kamprath said.
Goalie consummate teammate
Smith has been a workhorse between the pipes, backstopping a young, inexperienced Comox Valley squad.
In 23 games while facing 792 shots, Smith has been in the nets for three of the Glacier Kings’ four wins this season.
Kamprath said Smith is the consummate teammate and the perfect coach’s player.
“I can’t say enough about him,” Kamprath said. “I love Matty. He’s an awesome goalie (and) he’s one of the hardest working players on and off the ice. In off-ice stuff, he’s totally drenched in sweat. He’s a great teammate.”
The bench boss doesn’t expect to see Smith back with the team next season – and that’s a good thing.
“I expect him to make junior A,” Kamprath said. “If he keeps putting the work in that he is right now and keeps it up over the summer, I fully expect the (junior A) team to take a good long, hard look at him.”
The Glacier Kings have had 25 rookies in their lineup at different points of the season and the growing pains have been painful at times.
Team-wise, Kamprath admits it’s been a long, exhausting season for all involved.
“We’re coming in with a very rookie squad and we’ve been working hard to try and play catch-up the entire season,” Kamprath said. “We have to work every single game because have just such a young team that we don’t have that veteran scoring ability that other teams do.”
The Glacier Kings will look for their fifth win of the campaign Thursday in Nanaimo when they visit the Buccaneers.