A pair of BC Hockey League Island Division games against Victoria Grizzlies last weekend featured highs and lows for Powell River Kings.
In the opener on November 17 at Hap Parker Arena, Kings defeated the Grizzlies 5-2. The game marked the return of two key veteran players from the injury list for the home team: forward Jonny Evans and defender Callum Volpe.
But just as Volpe bolstered the team’s defence, fellow defender Carmine Buono was hit with a four-game suspension after being assessed a major penalty for a blow to the head. After sitting out Saturday’s game, Buono has three more left to serve.
Kings head coach Kent Lewis said he thought the suspension was excessive.
“My personal opinion, having watched it and also having been a referee, in terms of what we're calling in the league, it was a debatable suspension,” said Lewis. “There are some things to learn from the hit.”
In round two on November 18, Grizzlies turned the tables on the Kings and won 6-3.
Volpe and Evans made good on their return to the lineup as each player recorded three points on the weekend. Volpe assisted on three goals, while Evans scored once and added two assists.
The rivalry between Powell River and Victoria is no secret. The teams faced off in the division final last season in a hard-fought series that went seven games. Victoria came out on top.
This season, the teams have met five times with Kings winning two of those games and losing three.
“We haven’t been good in a lot of areas lately; that was evident on the weekend,” said Lewis. “Not having guys in the lineup, that's a moot point with me. We played two periods this weekend. Special teams were good on Friday and that won us the game. Saturday we were outworked and outsmarted.”
After dominating the Island Division early in the season, Kings are now in a tie for first place with Nanaimo Clippers; both clubs have 30 points in the standings.
Lewis is still waiting for Nathan Kelly, Ben Raffler, Mitchell Williams and Nick Abbott to come off the injured list. The coach said Kelly could be ready for an upcoming two-game home series against Cowichan Valley on November 24 and 25, Raffler is possible and Williams and Abbott will still be out.