It stood to be Powell River Kings’ most gruelling road trip of the season. Two games in the BC Hockey League’s most remote locations, five days on the road and more than 2,700 kilometres on the bus. When all was said and done, Powell River players showed the depth and resiliency they hope will propel them far this season.
On October 11, Powell River returned to Prince George for the first time since falling to the Spruce Kings in last year’s playoff series, which ended in five games.
After travelling up the day prior, and a game day skate, Powell River started strong with Ben Berard and Mitch Williams helping the Kings out to a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes. The teams traded goals in the second period, including Christian Buono making it a 3-1 game with Powell River’s first shorthanded goal of the year.
Kings put the game beyond reach through Josh Coblenz’s first goal of the season early in the third period. Ethan Schmunk’s first BCHL goal into an empty net sealed a 5-2 win and Powell River’s seventh victory of the season.
“We came to Prince George on a long day, then practiced on a game day and came out strong in the first period by scoring twice,” said Kings head coach Tyler Kuntz. “After that we faded a little; Mitch Adamyk came to the rescue and stole us a win.”
Adamyk stopped 35 shots over three periods of work.
The win was a measure of redemption from last year’s playoff loss for returning veterans, including Schmunk.
“The goal counts, even if it was empty net, but you still want to get one on a goalie,” said Schmunk of his first goal. “But I’ll take it.”
Following a travel day, Powell River arrived in Trail for an October 13 game against the Smoke Eaters. It was the third game of the season between the two teams, with the series knotted at one game each.
Kings found themselves down 4-0 after a nightmarish first period and without captain Ben Berard, who left the game with an upper body injury and did not return.
The second frame brought much more Kings offence as the team began to take the game to Trail and make inroads into the deficit. Newly acquired defenceman Ryan Pouliot scored his first BCHL goal early in the period, which was quickly followed by a nice rush down the ice capped by Ben Thomas’ second of the season.
Down 4-2 heading into the third period, defender Perry Winfree scored his first goal of the season after pinching down from the blueline to get the Kings within a single goal. However, that’s as close as the team would come, falling 4-3 despite outshooting Trail 10-3 in the final period.
Adamyk took the loss in goal, however, it was Hayden Missler who faced the bulk of the shots after replacing Adamyk following the first period.
“We got outworked [in the first period] plain and simple,” said Kings assistant coach Brock Sawyer. “We had to go in and regroup after 20, and we got a lot better the longer the game went on. We lost our top scorer, we pulled our goalie, we had guys exhausted at the end of the game, but they hung in there and just kept battling and doing everything they could to tie the game; it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Powell River returns home to prepare for another road trip, this time to Vancouver Island for three games in two and a half days. The series begins in Cowichan on Friday, October 19, before games in Victoria on Saturday and Nanaimo on Sunday.