Kings host players banquet, celebrate new naming rights deal

The Wheatland Kings capped off their 2023-24 season, hosting their annual awards banquet April 20, at the Strathmore Family Centre.

For the first time in franchise history, the Kings were unsuccessful in making it to the HJHL playoffs.

The banquet was hosted to celebrate the achievements by the players throughout the course of the season, with nine awards being handed out.

The awards were given to; Chase Tweit (MVP), Joel Romano (Most Dedicated), Kyle Provencher (Top Defenseman), Kobe Grosling (Top Forward), Charlie Goll (Rookie of the Year), Cole Walker (Most Improved), Cole Tweit (Top Defensive Player), Kage Yellowfly (Strathmore Times Player of the Year) and Ethan Van Egmond (King of the Year).

“Although the team did not make playoffs, the coaching staff saw a lot of tremendous growth from our players. Some of our bottom end guys started to come up to be top tier guys for us and we really just saw a lot of growth throughout the season,” said Cody Holdaway, the newly minted general manager of the Kings. “I think it is probably very meaningful for a player to win an award like this. (For) a lot of these guys, this is the last place they will play hockey and I think it means a lot to them.”

For Yellowfly, Walker, and Van Egmond, they will be aging out and retiring from the Kings.

Romano added having an event such as the banquet is a big deal for the players to be able to see all the support behind them in a different environment than throughout the regular season.

“Everyone who comes and supports us comes to these things and shows their face, so it is kind of a big deal for us to see them and say hi and have a drink with them and talk to them,” he said. “I think this year we faced a lot of ups and downs, and I feel like it was a hard year in some ways but also a good year. (We have) lots to build on, and I feel like we built a big team and I feel like going into next year we can be a big threat and possibly win this thing.”

Also taking place during the banquet, it was unveiled that the team had singed a five-year naming rights sponsorship agreement with Agra Risk Solutions. This deal marks the largest sponsorship agreement in franchise history.

“This is going to give us the funds to allow us to really change what we do as an organization. We will be able to provide our players with so much more,” said Holdaway. “Things like stick deals, player apparel, even the fan experience at our games will get a lot better. We are trying to bring back the mascot and thanks to this new sponsor, we have the funds to do so.”

Going forward, formerly the “Wheatland Kings” will now officially be known as the “Agra Risk Wheatland Kings.”

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times