Flexibility is key for sports leagues and teams dealing with cancellations and postponements due to weather-related restricted travel between the coast and interior of BC.
Flooding and damaged roads have contributed to changes to Powell River Kings’ schedule, as well as most other BC Hockey League (BCHL) teams. Also on the hockey front, Powell River Regals recently went from preparing for home games against a fellow senior amateur team to travelling to Nanaimo to face Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners of the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL).
“We had home games versus Rossland Warriors cancelled last weekend [November 27 and 28] due to travel restrictions, which enabled the Kings to play their rescheduled BCHL game against Nanaimo on Saturday night,” said Regals’ coach Tod English.
Kings were supposed to be on a road trip to play Interior Division teams, but instead played a home-and-home series with Nanaimo Clippers.
When a November 27 BCIHL game between VIU and Okanagan Lakers in Nanaimo was cancelled, the Mariners asked the Regals to provide opposition instead. BCIHL teams include University of Victoria (UVIC), Simon Fraser University, the Mariners and Lakers (UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College).
“It was our first game in six weeks,” said English. “We had a bunch of new faces but travelled with a full lineup.”
A little rust was evident for the first five minutes of the game, according to the coach, and resulted in an early 2-0 deficit.
“Our goalie Ryan Fairgray was seeing his first action with the team since 2019,” added English. “He played well for the first period and half; he split the game with Rob McNutt.”
Regals trailed 4-0 after 20 minutes but came alive in period two, carrying most of the play despite having to kill eight consecutive minor penalties.
“The second period was much better,” said English. “VIU capitalized on one power play, and Tanner Weirsma scored for us on a power play as well.”
Jordan Kamprath picked up an assist on Weirsma's goal.
VIU added a trio of third-period goals, including one on a power play and two at even strength. Dawson Heathcote scored for the Regals, assisted by Tyler Carpendale, to make the final 8-2 in favour of the home team. VIU outshot Powell River 42-26.
“Heathcote, Carpendale and Billy Walters were a threat most of the game and both of our goalies played well,” said English, “Newcomers Gabe Shipley and Bekkam Willis also played well on defence in their first game wearing green and gold.”
BC Hockey has confirmed that the Regals, Dawson Creek and Rossland are required to play home-and-home series between January 1 and the first week of March. The team that collects the most points will then play in a best-of-three Coy Cup senior AA provincial championship series hosted by the Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) champion. CIHL teams include Terrace, Prince Rupert, Smithers, Hazelton and Kitimat.
Regals have also been invited to play in the Tom Harris Cup in Victoria on January 7, 8 and 9. The round-robin tournament hosted by UVIC will include the Mariners and Lakers.
“We will have a minimum of 11 games in the new year, of which four will be at home,” said English. “For the first year back after the COVID-19 layoff we are excited by the interest of players who want to compete at this level.”