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Prime targets face tough losses

Kings split four games on the road
Glen Gibbs

Powell River Kings left for an extensive road trip to the interior last week and hit a couple of speed bumps called Vernon Vipers and Penticton Vees.

They started the four-game tour with two wins, 3-2 against Kelowna’s Westside Warriors and 5-3 against Trail Smoke Eaters, but ran out of gas in the last set losing 3-2 to Vernon and 4-1 to Penticton.

You won’t find the Kings making any excuses for their first back-to-back losses of the regular season but there’s no question the grueling schedule of six games in nine days had something to do with their mini-slump.

The itinerant Kings also learned a lot on the trip and as assistant coach Geoff Grimwood said in conversation with broadcaster Fraser Rodgers, “We’ve had some holes exposed on this trip but better to have that happen now than later.”

Kings have dealt very well with their high ranking so far this season but they must have thought they were wearing targets instead of a ‘P’ on their jerseys as the Westside Warriors hit them every chance they had on Tuesday night.

The physical strategy almost worked as the Warriors led 2-1 after two periods but the resilient Kings scored twice in the third to pull out the 3-2 win.

Matt Garbowsky scored twice to lead the way but Steven Schmidt’s goal was perhaps the weirdest one fans will ever see.

While killing a penalty, Schmidt iced the puck where it was handled simultaneously behind the Warriors’ net by both the netminder and defenceman. In the confusion, with no King in sight, the goaltender inadvertently dragged the puck under his pad out to the crease and nudged it back into his own net.

Next stop for the Kings was Trail on Wednesday and in another physical game the Kings uncharacteristically gave up three powerplay goals but proved to be the stronger team in a 5-3 win over the Smoke Eaters.

Daniel Schuler led the way with a pair of goals while Garbowsky, Brendan Hawryluk and Justin Dasilva added singles.

The day off on Thursday was a welcome one for the Kings but they weren’t sharp in the two games that followed against the leaders of the Interior Conference.

Vernon played a solid 60 minutes on Friday and pounded the Kings right from the opening whistle.

A large crowd of over 2,600 was treated to exciting action and a scoreless opening period as the two defensive leaders in the BC Hockey League lived up to their billing.

Vipers scored the only goal of the second period and added one more early in the third to lead 2-0, which sent their fans into a frenzy, but the embattled Kings bounced back with two of their own by Schmidt and Cohen Adair.

With the score tied 2-2, Kings took an uncharacteristic penalty late in the game and Vernon jumped on the mistake to score the winner on the powerplay.

Still stinging from defeat, the tired Kings walked right from the snake pit into the lion’s den on Saturday.

Vees were stinging from a 5-3 upset at the hands of Coquitlam Express the night before and they took out their anger on the road-weary Kings.

Craig Dalrymple shocked Penticton with a powerplay goal at 1:55 of the opening period but the Vees roared back with a strong attack and four goals to overpower the Kings 4-1.

This was not the way Kings intended to wrap up their trip but they had a chance for redemption when they hosted the Vees last night. They wrap up the month at 7:30 pm, Friday, January 28 at home with a game against Cowichan Valley Capitals then play Victoria Grizzlies at 1:30 pm, Sunday, January 30.

DIVISION: Coastal Conference

TEAM                                GP    W    L    T    OTL    PTS    GF    AVG    GA    AVG

Powell River                       48    35    8    3        2    75       169    3.50    88    1.80

Surrey                                48    29    16   1       2    61        174    3.60  150    3.10

Langley                              52    26    18   1       7    60        203    3.90  189    3.60

Victoria                               49    26    20    0      3    55        177   3.60   165    3.40

Nanaimo                             50    24    20    1      5    54        173   3.50   177    3.50

Alberni Valley                      49    20    22    4      3    47        141   2.90   154    3.10

Coquitlam                            48    17   21    1       9    44       169   3.50    195    4.10

Cowichan Valley                  49    18    24   1       6    43       154    3.10    202    4.10