Three games in four nights inside the friendly confines of Hap Parker Arena was, on paper, the recipe for a successful stretch of games. However, running into a pair of hot goaltenders resulted in Powell River Kings’ home record taking a couple of hits, leading to a slight slip in BC Hockey League standings.
Following a 5-2 win over Cowichan Valley on October 3, Kings hosted Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday, October 5. Trail took control with two first-period goals in a game many fans described as largely lifeless on both sides. A scoreless second period set up a more desperate third from Powell River players, who outshot their opponents 14-7 in the final period.
Ben Berard scored the lone goal for the Kings, his 50th career BCHL goal, to close the gap to one, however, that’s as close as the home team would get as Trail added an empty net goal for a 3-1 win.
“We had a pretty rough start where they dominated us, that’s becoming a bit of a trend with us this season and something we’re working on,” said Berard. “As the game went on, we improved. We had a good third period but we couldn’t dig ourselves out of the hole we made in the first.”
Goaltender Hayden Missler took the loss in his second consecutive start, stopping 19 of 21 Trail shots.
On October 6, Powell River welcomed Langley Rivermen for the only time at Hap Parker Arena during the regular season. Since re-entering the league in 2011, Langley had never earned a win in Powell River.
Despite the different opponent, the game script was largely the same. The major difference was the fact that the Kings scored the game’s first goal with Berard notching his league-leading ninth goal of the year for a 1-0 lead. From there, Langley continued to secure a stranglehold on the game.
A late first-period goal, coupled with an early third-period marker gave the Rivermen a lead. An empty-net goal with 18 seconds remaining sealed the victory and Langley’s first win as the Rivermen in Powell River.
Mitch Adamyk returned between the pipes, stopping 35 shots in the loss. The 38 shots on goal from Langley was a season high for shots against the Kings this season, and just the second time Powell River has allowed 30 or more shots in a game.
“We had a five on three early; we had a lot of good chances early,” said Kings GM and head coach Tyler Kuntz. “We’ve been doing a lot of good things, but lately it’s been a case of running into really good goaltending, but at the end of the day we need to find ways to score.”
Prior to the weekend, Powell River made a roster move, trading 20-year-old defender Ben Raffler to Alberni Valley in exchange for future considerations. The move frees up a spot on the 23-man roster, as well as one of the six overage spots that teams are allowed.
“It was a tough decision, but that’s part of the job, making hard decisions,” said Kuntz. “There’s a strong human side to this decision and you have to take that into consideration, but at the end of the day it’s hockey and you have to try and make your team the best it can be. It wasn’t fun; we really liked Ben but we think this is a way to make our team better moving forward.”
The schedule is no easier for Powell River in the coming weeks. On Thursday, October 11, Powell River return to Prince George for the first time since last year’s playoff series loss.
On Saturday, October 13, Kings visit Trail to complete the season series and once home, complete an almost 2,700-kilometre road trip over five days.