JDA Kings the DHT 2013 Team of the Year – Fred Rinne – DHT
To be the King you have to beat the King.
And finally, in 2013, the JDA Kings ascended to the throne as NWJHL champions of the Junior B loop, the first ever for a Grande Prairie-based team in the league.
For that and an incredibly dominant season in all aspects of the statistics, the Kings have been chosen the DHT Team of the Year via a media selection committee and vote on social media.
The hot-knife-through-butter analogy seems appropriate for the Kings who ran the table to a trophy last spring.
And in addition to that success, they once again find themselves atop the NWJHL standings despite an increasingly tough table, including the North Peace Navigators, Fort St. John Huskies, Fairview Flyers and Dawson Creek Canucks among others.
Longtime DHT sports editor Don Moon, who has remained very active in the city’s amateur hockey ranks has been close to the Kings.
He feels the team’s selection is a fitting one.
“The accomplishment wasn’t just winning their first-ever NWJHL championship, but what made it special was the fact they were supposed to and lived up to the hype all season long staying at or very near to the top from the first game in September until they defeated Peace River in the finale in March,” said Moon.
“A lot of young hockey players and teams crumble under those expectations . . . as we have seen from several GP Junior B teams in the past who couldn’t get over the hump whether it be, in the 1990s and early-2000s the Fort St. John Huskies or Peace River Navigators, or in the later-2000s the Whitecourt Wolverines,” he says.
“What is also noteworthy is they did it with, basically, 100% local kids. Something that several NWJHL champions over the last 15 years can’t say.”
Humbled by the honour Kings head coach and GM Kyle Chapple says the progress made by the team last year with a title and first place standing again this year speaks to the growth of the Junior B program.
“I think it’s important that people would support the game come out to the games and realize it’s not the “jungle b” hockey. That reputation is frustrating. These are serious hockey players who are using the opportunity to get to the next level,” said Chapple.
And growth has not only happened on the ice but off of it too.
As of Jan. 1, the team is now the County of Grande Prairie JDA Kings. They have a home rink of their own at the County of Grande Prairie Sportsplex; a designated dressing room with equipment; and access to field house for dryland training.
“The county approached us to be a full-time tenant and basically provided us with anything we wanted. Most importantly we get a lot more ice time than we could access at the Coke Centre because it’s so busy. So it was a great move for us.”
Chapple says while the on-ice talent of the guys – so many he didn’t really want to single any out for this purpose – has been key, some of the team’s most key players are off of the ice.
“First off, Jarvis Dawson – JDA – has been our title sponsor and has provided us with the financial support we needed, he even bought a bus. “Without his support, I dare say not only would we not be as successful as we are, we might not even exist,” said Chapple.
He also pointed to Travis Glenn and Randy Kleist, two guys who have done a lot of the “heavy lifting” for the franchise.
And it’s full steam ahead for the Kings who will be hosting Junior B provincials this season meaning two NWJHL clubs will be involved.
“It’s been a really good news story; we appreciate the support of the fans and the media,” said Chapple.
“And we are honoured by this award, thanks.”
The award comes with a $1,000 donation in advertising to the team’s charity of choice. The team has yet to indicate there that will be directed.
There were certainly many outstanding teams nominated for the award considered by the committee and via social media voting. Among them, three curling units (Daylan Vavrek’s juniors; Kristy Moore, Alberta Scotties winner; Renee Sonnenberg – Olympic Trials berth and Scotties runner-up). Also nominated Rage N Fyre roller derby; Gymniks Impulse; high school football squads St. Joe’s Celtics and Sexsmith Sabres; GP Broncos and Wembley Bulldogs bantam footballers; GP Sirens female rugby team; GPRC Wolves Cross-Country running team; Spirit River Renegades female volleyball team; Wolves women’s volleyball squad; and two other hockey clubs, the Nor-Lan Chrysler Midget AAA now-Peace Country Female Storm for their league excellence and two trips to the Mac’s tourney, and the GP Sherpa Safety Midget AA Storm who lost in the provincial NAMHL semi-finals by one goal to eventual champs Camrose.
North Peace Navigators vs JDA County Kings
JDA County Kings vs Fort St. John Huskies
JDA County Kings vs Fairview Flyers