In the words of head coach Kent Lewis, December was an “awful month” for the Powell River Kings, and the team’s first two games of 2018 were not that much better.
Kings split the first two games of the new BC Hockey League year against the lowly Cowichan Valley Capitals.
On January 5, Kings lost 5-3 to the Capitals. It was the Capitals seventh win all season in the Island Division, compared to 20 for the Kings.
On January 6, Powell River won 4-2. Jonny Evans picked up five points on the weekend with three goals and two assists.
Lewis said his team is playing its worst hockey of the year and Friday night was indicative of the problems that have besieged the Kings recently.
“We've been banged up for a long time, but we've never used it as an excuse,” said Lewis. “I would blame it on apathy, ridiculous play, not hungry enough, missing key people, nobody stepping up to fill the void and playing our worst hockey of the year.”
Kings captain Gavin Rauser has been out of the lineup for three weeks with an upper body injury and, while it has been hard on him to be watching from the stands, he said his teammates have stepped up.
“We have so many good guys and, even if they're not wearing a letter, there are a lot of good leaders in that room: Carter Turnbull, Andy Stevens, Hunter Findlater, Callum Volpe, and even younger guys like Ben Berard,” said Rauser. “Everybody kind of steps up if I'm there or not.”
Rauser admitted the team has gotten into a funk the last month, which shows in the standings. Kings were on top of the division for most of the first half of the season. The team now finds itself in a tie for second place with Victoria Grizzlies, each with 47 points, two behind Nanaimo Clippers.
Kings have only managed three wins in their last 13 games, including a six-game winless streak between December 9 and 16.
Berard leads the team in scoring with 18 goals and 26 assists for 44 points and eighth spot in league scoring.
Kings are at home to Salmon Arm on Friday, January 12, before a tough five-game road trip, including games against Nanaimo and Victoria.