Powell River Kings added two victories to the win column, 3-1 over Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Nanaimo Clippers 6-3, and two players to their roster as the Canadian Junior Hockey League January 10 trade deadline passed.
Coach and general manager Kent Lewis tweaked the lineup, not just for this year but for the future, when he added defenceman Cole Arcuri (96) and forward Brendyn Smith (95) to the roster.
“They are both guys that we would want here next year,” said Lewis. “We see them as helping us now and in the big picture. We lose quite a few defencemen next year so Cole will get invaluable experience right now in his 18-year-old year as will Brendyn.”
Assistant coach Chad van Diemen was involved with the trade process. “Chad was on the phone all week but we honestly like our group,” said Lewis. “We’ve just had guys out of the lineup for most of the year. You realize just how important they are when they come back in.”
The deadline passed with Powell River being consistent with its philosophy.
“I think our league has gotten silly with a few programs with what they do,” he said, “because kids aren’t meat.”
Both rookies were in the lineup Friday at Hap Parker Arena when Salmon Arm was the opposition and the expected jitters were calmed as soon as the game got underway.
“I was nervous the first game,” admitted Arcuri, “but that’s just how it is and I just tried to play it simple.”
He almost gave his new team an early lead with a clean look and hard shot from close range but the save was made by the Silverbacks’ goaltender.
Both goalies kept it scoreless until Lucas Grayson’s linemates, Luke McCaw and Curtis McCarrick, worked the puck to the net and after bouncing around it dropped at Grayson’s feet at 18:44 of the first.
“Oooh,” he said, smiling, “it doesn’t happen to me often and I turned around and it was laying there so I took a whack at it. I’m not much of a dangler, but I just greased it in the net.”
Silverbacks evened the score at 7:02 of the second on a shot that Jonah Imoo thought he had but the puck was poked in from behind him.
Kings regained the lead when Kurt Keats, on a nice feed from Jarid Lukosevicius, raced in on a breakaway and fired a shot in at 14:49.
Kings played the third period the way they’d like to finish all teams off by outshooting and eventually adding an insurance goal by Luke Nogard at 11:23.
He finished a nice give and go with winger Drew Dorantes for his 16th of the year and the big centre talked later about his recent scoring touch.
“I’m really watching guys like [Sidney] Crosby and juniors like Connor McDavid,” he said. “They’re specialists around the net and I’m just trying to be a student of the game. I really work at that in practice and try to carry it over into the game.”
Nogard is one of the larger players at six feet two inches tall and 210 pounds. “What I’ve been lacking the last few years was really using my body and speed to drive the net,” he said, “and now I’m finally doing it and it’s starting to pay off.”
Nanaimo Clippers were at the Hap on Saturday and after total domination Kings led by just a single goal in the first period before getting down to business in the second.
Newcomer Smith picked up his first two BC Hockey League (BCHL) goals and Lukosevicius had a pair while Matt Scarth got a shorthanded goal and JJ Coleshaw completed the scoring.
Nanaimo made a little noise late in the second with two goals in 15 seconds but Kings were in full control for the majority of the game.
Rookie defenceman Arcuri picked up his first BCHL point, an assist on Smith’s first goal, and he looked comfortable in both games.
“I do follow the BCHL,” he said, “and I was really happy to come here.” Of his new home he said, “it’s a beautiful town. I’ve never been here before and I’m really happy to be here.”
Arcuri will also get his fill of ferries in the next two weeks with back-to-back trips to Vancouver Island. They start Friday, January 17, with Nanaimo, then Saturday, January 18, in Victoria, and finish up with a 2 pm game on Sunday, January 19, in Cowichan.