Spruce Kings acquire WHL veteran Kushniryk

There was a new guy on campus Monday at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena practicing with the Prince George Spruce Kings.
Wil Kushniryk, a 19-year-old left winger, has joined the Kings after getting his release from the Tri-City Americans of the WHL.
"Wil is a veteran player who will give us some size and strength up front while also providing some leadership”, said Spruce Kings general manager Mike Hawes. “I feel that we aren't playing a heavy enough game up front on some nights. The addition of Wil should help address this issue."
A veteran of 119 games in the Western League, the six-foot-five, 210-pound Kushniryk is expected to be in the lineup Thursday in Powell River, the first stop on a three-game, four-day roadtrip for the Spruce Kings. He joined Tri-City a year ago in a trade from the Kelowna Rockets and collected three goals and 21 penalty minutes in 55 regular season games for the Americans. He also played five playoff games.
Kushniryk, a native of Chilliwack, played two seasons of midget hockey for Yale Hockey Academy. He made his WHL debut in 2017-18 with the Rockets and played 51 games, finishing with two goals, three assists and 15 penalty minutes.
"He's well-liked by his peers, works extremely hard and he's got some size and we're excited to have him, hopefully he'll make the team better," said Kings head coach Alex Evin. "Obviously (in the WHL) they get, for the most part, good coaching and he seems to have some decent habits already and I like what I see after Day 1."
The Spruce Kings got some of their injured players back last weekend and the team played well enough to win both games at RMCA against the Chilliwack Chiefs but had to settle for a split. On Friday they beat the Chiefs 3-2 in overtime on the strength of three goals from captain Nolan Welsh, back after missing three games with a hip flexor injury. In the rematch Saturday the Kings suffered a power failure. They outshot the Chiefs 36-23 but lost 2-1, after going 1-for-7 on the power play.
"Both games I thought we played well enough to win, especially on Saturday," said Evin. "Sometimes you don't get bounces or maybe wish you could have buried on the chances here and there. Their goalie (Mathieu Caron) played extremely well, especially at the start of the game and the  end of the game. So it wasn't for a lack of intensity or excecution. We got a lot of positives out of the weekend."
Evin had high praise for his captain, the 20-year-old Welsh, who on Friday registered the first hat trick of his B.C. Hockey League career, playing the right side on aline with Corey Cunningham and centre Preston Brodziak.
"He does so many little things right, not just scoring goals and stuff like that, but it was nice to see him make an impact on the scoresheet as well," said Evin. "We definitely missed him when he was out of the lineup."
Defenceman Cole Leal, 18, also returned to action for the Chilliwack series, his first games since the opening day of the season, Sept. 6, when he hurt his ankle. Winger Chong Min Lee played Saturday for the first time since suffering a mild concussion Oct. 11 in a game against the Nanaimo Clippers.
That leaves the Spruce Kings still with three injured players for the roadtrip. Centre Fin Williams, 16, is still recovering from a deep cut on the back of his calf he sustained when he fell into the boards with one of the Clippers. Defenceman Nick Bochen, 18, is still recovering from an ankle sprain that's kept him sidelined for eight games. The Kings will also be without defenceman Amran Bhabra, 16, out with an upper-body injury from Friday's game.
They've called up Aiden Reeves from the Cariboo Cougars major midget team to fill in on defence for the Powell River game on Thursday before he joins his midget teammates in Richmond for weekend games against the Greater Vancouver Canadians. The Kings will also play in Victoria Saturday night and Cowichan Valley Sunday afternoon and expect Bhabra will be ready to play by then.
Jake McLean, a 17-year-old winger recruited over the summer from the Vancouver Northwest Hawks major midgets, has left the Spruce Kings and returned to his home in North Vancouver.