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Veterans bond with fresh faces

Tournament in Trail proves Kings unbeatable
Glen Gibbs

Powell River Kings started their season on a winning note when they beat three teams from three leagues to win an exhibition tournament in Trail.

They edged Wenatchee Wild of North American Hockey League 6-5 in overtime on Thursday, then shutout host Trail Smoke Eaters of BC Hockey League 6-0 on Friday. They completed the hat trick when they blanked Brooks Bandits of Alberta Junior Hockey League 3-0 Saturday morning.

Kings left for the tournament with 27 players Wednesday morning, August 31, stopped over in Grand Forks that evening, then arrived Thursday for their first game at 3 pm.

They came out flying and surprised Wild when Evan Richardson recorded his first goal in a Kings’ uniform at just 14 seconds and Jordan Benton slapped in Kings’ second goal to put them up 2-0 at 3:01.

Wild opened it up after that and Sean Maguire had his hands full for the rest of his 30-minute stint in net with bouncing pucks and defensive lapses.

Wild led 3-2 after the first period, it was tied 4-4 after two and regulation time ended with the two teams deadlocked at 5-5.

Playing four on four in overtime, Teagan Waugh took a nice lead pass and scored with a backhand deke on a breakaway to give Kings a 6-5 win at 2:03.

Waugh and Richardson each added another while Steven Schmidt scored a powerplay goal to complete the scoring.

Maguire and Jamie Phillips combined to stop 40 shots for the win.

Game two was all Kings in a one-sided battle that saw Maguire pick up his first shutout of the year 6-0.

Smoke Eaters, who were shutout by Brooks in their first game 5-0, couldn’t muster anything against an improving Kings’ team that had several starters in the stands.

Benton, Brenden Forbes, Tanner Cochrane, James Neil and Carter Shinkaruk with two scored the goals for Powell River and Maguire made 27 saves for his shutout.

“Our defence was a lot better last night,” he said of the marked improvement over the first game against Wenatchee. “I was seeing the puck and they were keeping the play away from the net.”

Game three took place on Saturday morning against Brooks, who had beaten Trail 5-0 but lost 6-4 to Wild.

Kings continued to tighten things up over the first two games and looked very much like the Kings of last year who scored early then shut the opposition down.

Phillips and Jonah Imoo earned the shutout with Richardson and Forbes each scoring in the opening period. Matt Scarth had an unassisted goal in the third.

Almost as important as the hockey, this trip was a great chance for the 10 returning veterans to bond with new faces on the team.

“It’s going really well,” said Maguire. “The boys are meshing and we’re obviously playing pretty well. Everyone’s getting along.”

Of his relationship with new arrival Phillips he said, “I’m going to have to play my best and hopefully we can push each other through the season and make each other better. The bottom line is winning and whoever is winning gets the start.”

Head coach and general manager Kent Lewis was in the stands for the first and last game of the tournament, watching the game and conversing with a multitude of scouts.

“It’s a great chance for our guys to get to know each other,” he said, “especially this year because there are so many new faces. The other nice thing is that there’s a good concentration of scouts here so the players get good exposure.”

Kings continue their exhibition schedule in Gibsons on Sunday, September 11 at 1 pm against Coquitlam Express.