Powell River Kings start their playoff run on Friday, February 28, and head coach Tyler Kuntz feels confident about the team’s chances in the first round.
“We’re on the upswing,” said Kuntz. “We started the season well with seven wins and three losses, then we only won two of the next 12 games. There was a point where we lost seven in a row and had 54 goals scored against us to our 11, but the team buckled down and figured things out.
“The season’s last 16 games gave us 10 wins, three losses and three ties. That momentum will take us into the playoffs in a good frame of mind.”
Kings finished the season third in the BC Hockey League (BCHL) Island Division and will face the second-place Cowichan Valley Capitals in a best-of-seven playoff round.
“Cowichan is a good team,” said Kuntz. “For most of the last month, we thought we would play Nanaimo, but Cowichan has lost their last two games, and Nanaimo took over first place in the last 10 days of the season.”
Kings’ record against the Capitals this season has been mixed. At home in Powell River, they have one loss and two wins, including a one-sided 7-0 victory on January 31. On the road, the Kings have one win and three losses, with two of those losses in overtime.
“They definitely are the favourites to win the series,” said Kuntz. “They finished the season with 77 points to our 64. But despite that, we know we can compete with them. There’s a strong belief here that we can play well and win.”
The playoffs begin on February 28 in Duncan, with the Capitals hosting the Kings for games one and two on Friday and Saturday night. The series shifts to Powell River for games three and four, with games starting at 7 pm on both Tuesday and Wednesday, March 3 and 4.
Remaining games, as required, will alternate between locations: Duncan on Friday, March 6 (game five); Powell River on Saturday, March 7 (game six); and Duncan on Monday, March 9 (game seven).
“It’s a bit of an endurance test for all of us, but especially for our younger players who haven’t necessarily experienced this before,” said Kuntz “We’ll play two games, get two days off, then play four games in five nights. The toughest part will be between games five and six, where we play in Duncan on Friday, then catch the ferry to play here Saturday night.”
Kuntz hopes to keep the playoff run going as long as possible, both for the fans but also for Kings’ captain Jack Long, who is wrapping up his final season in the BCHL.
“Jack was one regular season game away from tying the franchise record for most games played,” said Kuntz. “As someone born in Powell River who has spent his entire junior hockey career with the Kings, he’s been the lifeblood of the team. We’re going to try to keep the journey going as long as we can.”
For more information on the playoff schedule or to purchase tickets, go to powellriverkings.com/.