The Royal Knights are proud to be part of the local hockey community, and to offer a strong program for hockey players aged 17 to 21 years old residing in the River East area to continue to play hockey at a high level.
In the past twenty-five years, over 350 players have worn the Royal Knights uniform as they continued their education or began their working careers while continuing to play competitive hockey in their own area.
The Royal Knights have attracted players from High School, AA, AAA, Junior A and even the Western Hockey League to their program and are one of the most successful teams in the history of the league.
In April of 1981, the East Kildonan Knights of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League folded after 9 years in the league.
Upon hearing of the Knights demise, Barry Bonni approached E.K. Knights President John Haasbeek and asked him for assistance in keeping Junior hockey alive in East Kildonan.
After some discussion, and persuasion from John’s wife Julie, he reluctantly agreed to help.
First they adopted the name River East instead of East Kildonan because it better defined the area of the city in which they would represent, and considered the name Royals and the colors of purple and gold hoping to create a flow from the Tier I (AAA) hockey program which was run by River East Minor Hockey, but they also wanted to show respect for the Knights name for their previous existence. Unsure of which name to use, Julie said how about "Royal Knights", thus the "River East Royal Knights" were named.
Barry and John then set out to recruit local business and hockey people to assist in launching this huge undertaking. The response was overwhelming, and at a subsequent meeting the Royal Knights first executive was formed consisting of John Haasbeek (Honorary President), Eugene Huynen (President), Jerry Brasko (Exec. V.P.), Al Michaels (V.P. Finance), Earl Proutt (V.P. Administration), Greg Hastmann (V.P. Promotions), Pat Fenn (Advertising) and Barry Bonni (Coach and General Manager).
Next, Barry and John attended the leagues annual meeting in June, where John introduced Barry to the league that gladly welcomed the new franchise. Out of courtesy, they also met with River East Minor Hockey to advise them of their intentions.
Because Barry had coached the River East Marauders Juvenile Team the previous two seasons as well as assisting the E.K. Knights during their previous year’s training camp, he was familiar with many of the junior age players in the area, and invited approximately 50 players to training camp in which 55 players actually attended.
After finishing the regular season in 4th place with a record of 22 wins and 20 losses, the Royal Knights went on to capture the M.M.J.H.L. Championship in their very first year in the league.