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Great start falters with away games

Kings fall to rivals
Glen Gibbs

After a great start to the weekend at home, Powell River Kings let two important games slip through their fingers on a Vancouver Island road trip.

They shutout Prince George Spruce Kings 2-0 on Friday at Hap Parker Arena but lost a tight 2-1 decision to Nanaimo Clippers on Saturday and then dropped 4-2 against Victoria Grizzlies on Sunday afternoon.

On Friday though, the future looked very bright as the Kings virtually rolled over the Spruce Kings.

The 2-0 shutout was won in convincing fashion with first period shots 21-2 in the Kings’ favour and they were more than a little unlucky to be up just one on a goal from James Neil.

Ahead 1-0, Powell River continued to receive chances and finally bought some insurance when Matt Scarth hit Evan Richardson in the slot and he wired a shot over the glove of Spruce Kings’ goalie Kirk Thompson at 5:53.

From there it was up to Jonah Imoo to keep the pucks out and he made a scintillating glove save on Chad Staley from close range to preserve the 2-0 shutout and grab the first star of the game.

The whole team, in fact, put in a gritty 60-minute performance and Kings’ coach and general manager Kent Lewis praised his players.

“I think the key tonight was our best player, or one of our best players, was the guy that he needs to be and that’s Richardson and he was pretty dominant,” he said. “That line was good and I thought we brought good energy, and when we bring energy good things happen.”

One of Richardson’s linemates, Stephen Hiff, agreed. “We bounced back good from last weekend and got a good practice under our belt,” he said. “We came out in the first period on fire and did that all the way through to the end.”

The final shot total was 39-16 in favour of Powell River but Thompson was stellar in the net for Prince George.

“He was definitely on his game tonight and we just knew that we had to keep getting pucks on net,” said Hiff. “The finish will come too but just keep firing, bear down and it will come.”

Kings were on the other end of the shot clock 35-24 the next night in Nanaimo, however, and played catch-up all evening.

Clippers led 1-0 after one period and 2-1 after the second.

Kings fell behind by two at 4:40 of the final period but Matt Dupont scored at 6:58 to rise to within one at 3-2.

Kings had a couple of great chances to tie the game with goalie Braeden Ostepchuk pulled for an extra attacker but they just couldn’t find the net.

JJ Coleshaw had the first even strength goal but they would have liked another, possibly on the powerplay that went 0-7.

There wasn’t a lot of time to dwell on what might have been as the Kings zipped down to Victoria for a game with the Grizzlies on Sunday afternoon.

Perhaps feeling the effects of a busy weekend and a rash of injuries, Kings got off to a slow start and gave up a shorthanded goal at 3:59 of the first period.

Kings’ Teagan Waugh tied it 1-1 on the powerplay but Victoria got another to lead 2-1 after two periods.

Midway through the final period a strange turn of events could have given Powell River a golden opportunity to control the game.

Chris Albertini (six foot, three inches and 210 pounds) ran Jarryd Leung into the boards and as Leung struggled to leave the ice, the Grizzlies scored their third goal.

A conference of the officials however, resulted in Albertini’s ejection, the goal disallowed and the Kings on a five-minute powerplay.

They came up empty, however, and after exchanging even strength goals, a Grizzlies’ empty-netter made the final 4-3 for Victoria.

Kings have been as high as second in powerplay rankings but went 1 for 17 on a weekend where a powerplay goal or two might have made a big difference in the outcomes.

They will have a shortened week to work on it as they head out on the road this week to play West Kelowna Warriors on Friday, January 11, Vernon Vipers on Saturday, January 12 and Salmon Arm Silverbacks Sunday afternoon, January 13.

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