By Len Bardsley
Nov. 28, 2005
The Victoria Salmon Kings went from feeling like an unwanted stepchild last season to experiencing the warmth and love of a new home filled with family.
The Salmon Kings moved into their new arena, the Save-on-Foods Memorial Center, on Nov. 10 after playing all of last season at the out-of-the-way Bear Mountain Arena. And to put it simply, what a difference a year makes!
The Salmon Kings accepted the situation like professionals last season, though they did not always feel like they were a legitimate minor-league franchise. It didn’t help that the Salmon Kings started the season with 14-straight road games, going 3-10-1 in the process.
The Salmon Kings never really recovered, putting together only 15 wins for the entire season.
It is a whole lot different this season with the Salmon Kings situated in the Save-on-Foods Center, a new 7,400 seat arena in downtown Victoria, compared to Bear Mountain, which is about half the size of the new arena and is located in the suburbs of Victoria.
The Salmon Kings have responded to their new digs putting together a home record of 3-2-1 and an overall record of which has them well within shouting distance of the top half of the Pacific Division.
The Salmon Kings have averaged 4,800 at their new arena, after averaging just 2,289 last season.
“It is night and day,” said Salmon Kings defenseman Nate Forster of the difference between this season and last season. “It is a better feel in terms of everything, from the smallest things to the biggest things.”
The biggest difference, of course, being the arena. While most of the Salmon Kings admitted playing at Bear Mountain was not a big deal, not having a permanent locker room was a little frustrating.
“It was more of a relief,” said Salmon Kings goalie Rob Muntain of playing at the new arena this season. “Bear Mountain was not that bad a situation. I think the main issue was the dressing room situation.”
The Salmon Kings enjoyed the buzz and anticipation of playing at Save-on-Foods for the first time, winning against the Stockton Thunder, 5-2.
“It was the talk of the town a few days before,” said Muntain of opening night. “Getting the win helped more.”
Muntain knew good things were coming to Victoria and didn’t hesitate to return for a second season despite the 15-win campaign in 2004-05.