Powell River Kings' final run to the Christmas break takes the team back to the Lower Mainland this weekend.
Kings visit Langley on Friday, December 14, before travelling to Merritt and Coquitlam for games on Saturday and Sunday.
Even in December, every point matters, and there are glances at the standings to see where your team sits, and a look at the out-of-town scoreboard to see how other teams fared.
That’s what made this past weekend for Powell River Kings such a rollercoaster, dropping a winnable game on home ice before turning out the best defensive performance of the year on the road.
Powell River closed its 2018 home schedule on Friday, December 7, by hosting Salmon Arm Silverbacks, a team mired in a four-game funk and visiting a venue they had not tasted success in since 2013.
Kings came into the game full of confidence on the heels of a shutout win in Duncan earlier in the week, where the team ascended to the top of the powerplay and penalty killing ranks for the entire BC Hockey League.
However, those numbers failed to serve them well against an opportunistic Salmon Arm side that jumped out to a 3-0 lead midway through the second period courtesy of a pair of powerplay goals, including one while enjoying a five-on-three advantage.
It took Powell River until 13:55 into the third period to get on the board, when Josh Coblenz extended his point streak to five games with his 12th goal of the season. Then, inside the final minute, Kings forward Neal Samanski cashed in on a powerplay to pull the home team within one, but that’s as close as they came in a 3-2 loss.
“We let tonight get away from us, we were flat, we didn’t play with energy and we were uninspired,” said Kings assistant coach Brock Sawyer. “We thought that since we were playing a younger team that it was going to be easy and for us it was a wakeup call. Overall we out-chanced them but it just wasn’t enough.”
Matteo Paler-Chow took the loss in net in his third game since returning from an off-season injury.
The following day, Kings made the trek to Chilliwack to close out their weekend on the road. It was the return leg of a season series that opened in November when Chilliwack ran away 7-5 winners at Hap Parker Arena.
The teams played a scoreless but enthralling and thoroughly entertaining first period with shots favouring Chilliwack 6-5. The best chance came through Christian Buono, who redirected a perfect pass from Mitch Williams, but was stopped by Daniel Chenard, the Chiefs national-championship-winning goalie from last season who was making his season debut following summer surgery.
Goals finally came for Powell River in the second period, beginning with a pair just 1:02 apart from Ryan Brushett and Ben Thomas. The goal for Brushett, his 23rd, gave him the lead in BCHL goal scoring, breaking away from a four-way tie.
Brushett scored again to round out the second period, then Powell River took the game completely away from Chilliwack when Williams scored just nine seconds into the final frame. Ryan Pouliot closed out the scoring on the powerplay with his fourth of the season.
The rest was left to Mitch Adamyk, who stopped 30 shots and shut out his opponent for the fourth time in his last five starts.
“Mitch was good. He’s really come into his own over the last few weeks and turned into the goalie we knew he could be,” said Sawyer. “Obviously he hit a rough patch at the start of the season but give him a ton of credit. He’s worked daily with [goalie coach] Sean [Maguire] and having Matteo back pushes him to get better every day.”
Adamyk now leads the BCHL with four shutouts and is 5-0 in his last five starts with a 0.60 goals against average and a .979 save percentage. After compiling back-to-back shutouts (including Tuesday vs Cowichan) for the second time this season, Adamyk was named BCHL Player of the Week on December 10.
Kings' return game from the holiday break takes place December 29 in Cowichan. The next home games at Hap Parker Arena are scheduled for Friday, January 4, and Sunday, January 6.