It’s been quite the ride for Corey Cunningham.
The 19-year-old from Prince George is winding down his four-year tenure with the Spruce Kings, which has seen their fair share of on-ice success.
As of this writing, Cunningham has 11 points in 19 games inside the Chilliwack pod. It was a slow start offensively for the local product, collecting just three assists in his first nine games.
Admittedly, Cunningham mentions the Chilliwack Coliseum has been a bit of a house of horrors for him.
“I have had a tough time in this rink. I have always had a mindset that this rink has always haunted me and stuff. My readiness at the start wasn’t very good. I could have had lots of goals If I buried my chances and I wasn’t quite there. I have probably played 40 or 50 games here and never had that much success, but I try to do the little things right.”
In what has been a season like no other, Cunningham admits the pod set-up has its quirks.
“It’s been unusual, to say the least. It’s kind of crazy not to go anywhere and you can’t get a Starbucks before the game or even a coffee from a fast-food restaurant. It’s just walk to the rink and practice or walk to the rink and get ready for back-to-back games. It’s been crazy (playing only) Chilliwack and Merritt but we feel really fortunate to have played this season.”
Cunningham chose the junior A route after going unselected in the WHL Bantam Draft. As a fresh-faced 16-year-old, there were some definite growing pains along the way.
In the 2017-18 season, Cunningham tallied just two goals and two assists in 40 games. While the total doesn’t seem flattering, he was part of a team that secured the franchise’s first-ever Mainland Division title with a record of 33-17-4-0, 11 points ahead of the Langley Rivermen.
Led by head coach Adam Maglio, PG had a very impressive core that proved to be a force in the BCHL, featuring players like Ethan De Jong, Ben Brar, Dustin Manz, Ben Poisson, Patrick Cozzi, Layton Ahac and Evan DeBrouwer just to name a few.
After a pair of gritty seven-game series against Chilliwack and Surrey, Prince George ultimately found its way to the Fred Page Cup Final before falling short against the Wenatchee Wild in five games.
In year two, Cunningham took another step forward in his maturation process by notching 14 points in 47 games. However, his coming-out party came in the BCHL playoffs. He played on a checking line that included Nolan Welsh and Lucas Vanroboys.
The trio proved instrumental in clinching the Fred Page Cup for the Spruce Kings who embarked on a historical 16-1 run. For his efforts, Cunningham recorded five goals and five assists in 17 games.
The accolades continued for him and his Spruce King teammates as they dispatched the top-ranked Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League in six games during the Doyle Cup.
The storybook season fell one win shy as the Bandits exacted revenge on PG by winning the final of the National Junior A Championship in 2019.
Predictably, the Spruce Kings tumbled down the standings in 2019-20 as they dealt with injuries and scoring woes – with the exception of Cunningham.
The local product had a career year, lighting the lamp 26 times while adding 18 assists in 53 games. However, Prince George was swept in the first round by the Trail Smoke Eaters in the abbreviated 2020 BCHL playoffs.
In 159 career regular season games, Cunningham has 73 points – with one more game to go. He is committed to Merrimack College to play NCAA Division I hockey next season.