Through 20 minutes, there were some questions. After 40 minutes, a glimmer of hope. But after 60 minutes, Powell River Kings had earned their first win in a young BC Hockey League season and sent an impressive opening night Hap Parker Arena crowd home happy.
On Saturday, September 8, Kings hosted their 2018/2019 season and home opener. The game marked the 31st such occasion in Powell River and fittingly began with introductions of this year’s roster, along with a ceremonial puck drop by inaugural team member Jamie Burt.
But with all the excitement of the opening game, Powell River started flat in the opening period. It took Victoria all of five minutes to have fans back in their seats as the visitors jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a puck that rolled over goaltender Mitch Adamyk’s shoulder from the side of the net. The lead doubled 10 minutes later with a similar goal. Fans were left silenced as the first period drew to a close.
The game slipped further away in the second period when Victoria scored inside the opening minute to take a 3-0 lead. But that goal seemed to make something click for Powell River; the home team began to connect on more passes, hit more opposition players and hit the net with more shots.
That perseverance was rewarded late in the second when first-year forward Matt Fawcett finished a chance in the low slot following a solid effort from Ethan Kimball, cutting the lead to 3-1 through 40 minutes.
Kings had a perfect start in the third period with Fawcett again the catalyst, this time off a faceoff where he got a shot away quickly, handcuffing the Victoria netminder and cutting the lead to one.
Powell River continued to pour on pressure, outshooting Victoria 16-7 in the final period. Liam Lytton tied the game at three before a determined play by Kyle Kawamura along the boards where he lost his footing, regained it under pressure and shot low on net for Mitch Williams to bury a rebound.
The goal stood as the eventual game winner. Williams added his second of the game into an empty net to close out a five-goal comeback and 5-3 win. Adamyk earned the win, stopping 26 Victoria shots.
“At the beginning of the game, we had some jitters and weren’t really gelling yet,” said Fawcett, the game’s first star. “Once we got in the locker room, recuperated and refocused we started playing our systems, working hard and it worked out in the end.”
Fawcett added that scoring late in the period helped set the tone for the third.
“It’s nice going to the locker room having a goal under our belt, having some positive energy and momentum going into the third,” he said.
Fawcett’s goal was the obvious turning point of the game for the Kings’ coaching staff, too.
“There’s so much emotion in a home opener and we got off to a slow start; we got on our heels with their quick goals,” said assistant coach Brock Sawyer. “We kept forcing good habits on the bench, sticking with the system, regrouped and kept trying to work to get on the board and got rewarded. In the intermission, [coach] Tyler [Kuntz] said if we get one more, it will blow the game wide open, and that’s what happened.”
Sawyer commended the crowd at Saturday’s game, citing it as a big reason why the Kings were able to turn the game around. The announced attendance of 1,200 is the highest regular season attendance for the team since November 2016.
Powell River will wrap a season opening three-game homestand this weekend by hosting Nanaimo Clippers. Games times are 7 pm on Friday, September 14, and 5 pm on Saturday, September 15.