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Kings send mixed messages

Competition heats up as playoffs arrive

Aside from results, there is also a great deal of importance attached to subliminal messages between a pair of combatants.

This is particularly true as the playoffs draw closer so it had to be disappointing when Powell River Kings dropped a 6-1 decision to Nanaimo Clippers and 3-2 against Victoria Grizzlies last weekend.

Victoria looks like a probable first-round opponent and a successful first round for the Kings will likely lead to the next series with division winner Nanaimo.

Kings have had up and down success with the Clippers this season but recently lost badly in Powell River.

Hopes for a successful rebound were quickly dashed on Friday, February 20, when the more opportunistic Clippers got out to a 2-1 first period lead and then added two more goals in each of the next two periods to win comfortably 6-1.

Nick Halagian was the lone goal scorer for Powell River in a game that was close in possession, close in shots (34-33) but miles apart in defensive breakdowns leaving starter Brett Magnus to pretty much fend for himself.

Win as a team, lose as a team and head coach and general manager Kent Lewis wasn’t laying the blame on his troops. “Ultimately the responsibility lies with the coach,” he said.

Kings moved on to Victoria Saturday looking to right the ship against their probable first-round opponent and hopefully add to their slim one-point lead in the standings over the Grizzlies.

This game had more of a playoff feel to it and the Kings, led by Colton Sandberg, did a better job of finishing their checks early.

Victoria, however, did a better job of finishing scoring chances and led 1-0 after Ayden MacDonald was left alone in front of the net at 12:17.

Kings’ Halagian evened the score 1-1 at 11:01 of the second period but Victoria regained the lead three minutes later and then stunned Powell River at 1:00 minute of the third with their third.

Kings got back into the game at 9:08 on a Jarid Lukosevicius rush down the right wing and cut to the net to close the score to 3-2 but, even with penalty trouble for the Grizzlies, Kings couldn’t get the power play to click and lost.

The two losses were a double whammy for the Kings who now need to play catch-up to the Grizzlies for home ice advantage and also have the Alberni Bulldogs hot on their tails for third place.

Fortunately the Bulldogs, who are four points behind the Kings, lost all three games on the road last weekend, and come into Powell River this weekend hungry to win both games and drop the Kings to fourth place.

A tie in the standings between these two teams would be broken by the points earned between the two clubs over the season and Alberni holds that edge.

While they battle in their last two games, Victoria plays Cowichan Capitals Wednesday, February 25, and then completes its schedule against Nanaimo in home and away games on Friday and Saturday.

As for the Kings and Bulldogs their applicable statistics are extremely close and fans can expect the Bulldogs to throw everything at the Kings in an attempt to move up.

In the all important special teams category Kings at home are 27.83 per cent (second) on the power play and 77.36 per cent (12th) on the penalty kill. Alberni on the road is 26.83 per cent (second) and 77.08 per cent (eighth) on the penalty kill.

Three Kings led by Jacob Pritchard (73), Lukosevicius (71) and Kurt Keats (64) are in the BC Hockey League’s top 10 while Alberni’s Mitch Makin (58) is the lone Bulldogs player to make the top 20.

While each has made the playoffs both teams are limping into the post season thus far with four losses in their last 10 games.

It sets up for an exciting matchup and four points for the team that wants them the most. Fans can watch the drama unfold at 7:15 pm on Friday, February 27, and 5 pm on Saturday, February 28, at Hap Parker Arena.

DIVISION: Island Division

Standings    Expanded Standings     

TEAM                        GP    W    L    T    OTL    PTS   

y-Nanaimo                 56    37    16    0    3        77   

x-Victoria                    55    26    18    1  10        63   

x-Powell River            56    26    20    1    9        62   

x-Alberni Valley          56    26    24    2    4        58   

Cowichan Valley        57    20    32    2    3        45   

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