Jack Long scored all of seven points during the regular season, but the Powell River native came up big in game one of the BC Hockey League Island Division championship series.
Long scored two goals in the Kings 3-2 overtime win against the Victoria Grizzlies in the first game of round two, played in Victoria on Friday, March 17.
Jonny Evans scored the winner in the second overtime period. Kings lead the seven-game series 1-0.
It could have been the luck of the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day when Long’s first goal in the first period came off a slapshot from, of all places, centre ice.
“That’s one of those highlight bloopers,” said Kings head coach Kent Lewis.
Long’s second goal came in the third period, assisted by Matthew Cairns and Joshua Bruce, in his first game of the playoffs. Grizzlies then tied it at 2-2, forcing the game into overtime. Evans scored his second overtime goal of the playoffs, unassisted at 3:16.
“With every team you play there are different challenges and I thought Josh [Bruce], Josh Coblenz and Hunter Findlater have played very well against Victoria,” said Lewis. “They create a lot of havoc through good work and good forechecking. There’s a little bit of everything on that line.”
Seen as more of a feisty blueliner, Long is not the first player that comes to mind as playing the key offensive role.
“Isn’t that neat?” said Lewis. He added anything can happen in the playoffs when the team puts pucks on the net.
Kings put 59 shots on the Grizzlies net. Brian Wilson, in his fifth start of the playoffs, stopped 48 shots. Wilson is number one among league goalies who have started all their teams games in the playoffs. He’s allowed only 10 goals against in five games, including the four-game sweep of Cowichan Valley Capitals in round one of the playoffs and the opener against the Grizzlies.
Wilson's save percentage is .938, goals-against-average is 1.76 and, according to the coach, the goalie is getting stronger every game. Wilson has been solid, said Lewis, and currently has the starting role, with Mitch Adamyk as backup.
“We have confidence in both our kids,” said Lewis. “Right now, [Wilson] has the ball and we want our kids not wanting to give that up. That’s absolutely key.”
Lewis said that winning the opening game of the seven-game series on the opponent’s home ice is huge.
“The goal is to win every game,” he said. “You can’t get caught up in just a series. Just win the day.”
So far, the Kings have done just that.
The next game between the two teams is Saturday, March 18, in Victoria, then the series shifts to Powell River and Hap Parker Arena on Monday, March 20, and Tuesday, March 21.