One of Kent Lewis’ go-to mantras is “play properly.” In a pair of BC Hockey League (BCHL) games last weekend, the Powell River Kings head coach said his team did just that.
“Go out and play properly. I know it’s a cliché, but at the end of the day it makes so much sense,” said Lewis. “Play the way we play, don’t be silly, just go play properly and work hard.”
Kings did that and more against two visiting BCHL Mainland Division teams. On Friday, January 6, they blew out Prince George Spruce Kings, the division’s third-place team, 10-4. The next night, they crushed Coquitlam Express, the last place team, 12-1.
“We know it’s a rare thing when that number of goals go in,” said Lewis.
Kings executed better in Saturday’s game, according to the coach. Lewis said turnovers were down, the team was strong in the face-off circle and the power play was good. He added that the team stayed consistent and did not become too fancy or cute, which reinforced what he knows his team can do: score goals.
“We didn’t roll our top power play units down the stretch,” said Lewis about Saturday’s game. “Later on in the game we had guys out there who don’t normally get power play time; we rolled our whole bench.”
Kings scored on three of six power play chances. Kyle Betts notched a hat-trick and added two assists.
“What I like is we were hungry, we executed and we started doing some things we’ve been talking about,” said Lewis. “The result of that
is involving every line.”
On Friday, Lewis said the Kings took advantage of some weaknesses in the Prince George lineup, but there were still some aspects of his team’s play he was not pleased with.
“I don’t like giving up four goals when we don’t give up a lot of shots,” said Lewis. “There were some big breakdowns that led to their goals.”
Tristan Mullin recorded a hat-trick in the win. Powell River outshot Prince George 46-22 and Coquitlam by a 54-22 margin. Goaltending duties were split; Brian Wilson faced Coquitlam while Mitch Adamyk saw action against Prince George.
Lewis said he is happy with significant lineup changes made prior to the BCHL trade deadline on Tuesday, January 10. He brought in former Kings’ defenceman Carmine Buono and Edmonton Oilers’ third-round draft pick Matthew Cairns.
“Cairns showed a lot of rust in his first game,” said Lewis. “In his second game, he settled down; he was nervous. He’s an 18-year-old kid who is going to get better with each game. What we needed was an impact guy with good size who plays physical; I’m really happy we have him.”
Buono and Cairns each had assists on the weekend.
Kings now embark on a stretch of six straight road games, with the first three against division rivals, including two versus division-leading Victoria Grizzlies. Kings trail the frontrunners by 10 points in the standings.
“We like what we have, it’s playing the right way,” said Lewis. “We’re starting to do that down the stretch. We have a great schedule and a lot of challenges coming up.”
Kings also beat Alberni Valley Bulldogs 5-3 on Tuesday, January 10.