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Powell River U18 Kings set to host biggest game of the year

Minor hockey club seeks to advance past first round of Vancouver Island Amateur Hockey Association playoffs this weekend
Powell River U18 Kings' forward Noah Culos [left] holds the puck as teammate Paxton Schreiber converges on the U18 Alberni Bulldogs net during a playoff game at Weyerhaeuser Arena on February 3.

Powell River U18 Kings will be looking to advance to the second round of Vancouver Island Amateur Hockey Association playoffs when they host U18 Oceanside Generals on Saturday, February 10. Game time is 3:30 pm at Hap Parker Arena.

Oceanside (two wins, no losses) leads a four-team round-robin which will see the top two clubs emerge from the group and continue postseason play. Powell River is currently second (one win, one tie), followed by U18 North Island Eagles (one tie, one loss) and U18 Alberni Valley Bulldogs (two losses).

Powell River and North Island tied 4-4 in the first round-robin game late last month.

With one game remaining for each team, Oceanside has clinched at least second place in the group and will take top spot with a win or tie. Powell River can win the group by defeating Oceanside, and will also advance with a tie as the second place team.

In order to advance, North Island needs to defeat Alberni at home, also on February 10, combined with a Powell River loss, which would leave the teams tied with one win, one tie and one loss each. In that case, goal differential would determine which club moves on. Alberni has been eliminated from contention.

In their second game of the round-robin, at Weyerhaeuser Arena in Port Alberni on February 3, U18 Kings built a 2-0 lead over the U18 Bulldogs and hung on for a 2-1 win.

Following a scoreless first period, team captain Tyler Durant put Powell River up a goal with 5:38 remaining in the second period, lifting a high shot over the goaltender's shoulder after circling behind the Alberni net. Jeremy Pukesh and Evan Piniewski combined to set up Paxton Schreiber's eventual game winner from the slot midway through period three, giving the visitors a slight cushion as time wound down.

A shutout bid by Kings' goaltender Luke Dennis came to an end with 3:27 remaining in the game, which gave the Bulldogs momentum with their season on the line. Dennis and his teammates then withstood a barrage of shots as the clock ticked down before celebrating a hard-fought, much needed win.

A large contingent of supporters made the trip to Port Alberni to support the team, which is expecting a big crowd to be in attendance on Saturday afternoon against the Generals.

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