Powell River Kings lose ground on first place after weekend stumbles

With the 2018/19 BC Hockey League season winding down, opportunities to make a move or build a lead in the standings are becoming more and more rare. Powell River Kings faced such an opportunity this past weekend with three divisional games, including a pair against the lone team that has been ahead of them for a lion’s share of the season.

Powell River’s mission began Friday, February 1, as the team ventured to Port Alberni to face the Bulldogs. This team, at least statistically, has given Powell River the most trouble this season, with the Kings holding a 3-2 advantage in the series leading into Friday’s game. The Kings’ assignment was made more difficult with leading scorer Ryan Brushett forced to miss the game with injury.

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Alberni scored the opening goal early in the first period, however that was cancelled out through Ben Thomas’s goal late in the first. Teams continued to trade goals in the second with Christian Buono scoring as Powell River fell behind 3-2 through 40 minutes. Despite chances in a third period, where Powell River outshot the Bulldogs 16-10, the score remained 3-2.

“You show up to the rink and your top guy can’t go. You put it behind you and still put out a 60-minute effort,” said assistant coach Brock Sawyer. “To put it simply, we didn’t get enough from a lot of guys tonight and too many were passengers.”

The crown jewel in Powell River’s weekend was a double-header against Victoria Grizzlies, who entered the weekend one point up on Powell River in the Island Division standings.

Mitch Williams and Ethan Schmunk scored 40 seconds apart in the first period to create a dream start for the Kings who took a 2-0 advantage. Brushett, returning from injury, and the league’s leading point-getter Alex Newhook for the Grizzlies traded goals in the second period before Victoria followed up with a solid third, taking the game to the Kings and forcing overtime.

The five-minute extra session settled little, and for the third time this season Powell River headed to a shootout, putting their 2-0 record on the line.

Mitch Adamyk, in net for Powell River, was perfect through two rounds, while Williams and Levi Glasman tallied down the other end for the Kings to win the opening game 4-3 and improve to 3-0 in the shootout record this season.

“Before the shootout, I didn’t really have a move in mind,” said Williams on his successful shootout attempt, which mirrored National Hockey League star Nikita Kucherov by making a non-move and sliding the puck between the goaltender’s legs. “I told [Matteo Paler-] Chow that if I get selected, I’m going to try something cool and luckily it paid off.”

Powell River’s weekend, and the double-header against Victoria, wrapped on Sunday, February 3, as a precursor to Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta, Georgia. Newhook, a likely NHL Entry Draft pick this June, exploded for a five-point night, including a hat trick as Victoria skated away with a 6-2 win. Ethan Kimball scored, while Jack Long notched his first goal of the season in the loss.

With the weekend results, Powell River sits in second place in the BC Hockey League Island division with a record of 31-19-1-0.

The team returns home for four consecutive games beginning Friday, February 8 against Merritt Centennials. The following night, West Kelowna Warriors make their lone regular season visit to Hap Parker Arena. Both games start at 7 pm.

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