Hockey is a game of inches, a game where one bounce can win or lose a game. Unfortunately for Powell River Kings, they found out the hard way that one bounce can cost a team victory; that was learned twice over a long weekend road trip.
On November 2, Powell River visited the Olympic-sized ice surface at South Surrey Arena to take on the Surrey Eagles.
After a great start, Kings led 3-1 through 40 minutes with a pair of goals coming from Matt Fawcett and one from Christian Buono. Powell River piled on more offence in the second period through Buono’s second of the game and a goal from Kyle Kawamura, and newly NCAA committed forward Ryan Brushett celebrated his deal with University of Nebraska Omaha with a third-period tally.
Hayden Missler stopped 26 shots as Powell River cruised to a 6-2 win.
“They’re a team that’s not doing too great right now,” said Brushett, a former member of the Eagles. “It was a really exciting game for me and the guys played a solid game; it was a good outing and great to get the road trip off on a winning note.”
The next night, Powell River ventured into the United States for a matchup against defending BCHL champion Wenatchee Wild. Wenatchee scored inside the opening minute, but Powell River regained control in the second period. Brushett, Rowan Miller and Josh Coblenz all scored and the game was tied at three after 40 minutes.
With the game still tied late in the third period and Powell River on a powerplay, defenceman Matt Rickard slipped while controlling the puck at the blue line, leading to a shorthanded, breakaway game-winning goal for Wenatchee. The home team tacked on one more and added an empty-net goal for a 6-3 win.
“We worked hard, we competed, we were invested in the game and we worked hard to create our goals,” said Kings head coach Tyler Kuntz. “Those types of goals [Wenatchee’s shorthanded game winner] hurt; there’s nothing you can say about it, you just leave the kids alone and encourage them the next day. Those things happen in hockey, it happens at every level; it happened last night and it might happen again where we benefit from it.”
Powell River wrapped up its weekend in West Kelowna against the Warriors, led by former Kings assistant coach Geoff Grimwood. Kings found themselves down 4-1 after two periods, with Brushett scoring the lone marker, however, a comeback was mounted through Brushett’s second of the game and Neal Samanski to get Powell River within a goal.
Similar to the night prior, a bounce of the puck over a defender’s stick in neutral ice, again while Powell River was on a powerplay, led to West Kelowna scoring the eventual game winner on a shorthanded breakaway to make it 5-3. Fawcett scored to again pull his team within one, but the Kings were unable to find a late equalizer.
The comeback was made more difficult by the loss of affiliate Michael Abgrall and defenceman Ryan Pouliot to injury.
“A tough trip no doubt,” said assistant coach Brock Sawyer. “You get some bumps and bruises along the way and we lost a couple more guys through the game tonight where we took the precautionary approach.”
Despite the 1-2 weekend, Powell River’s coaching staff took positives from a difficult trio of games.
“We conceded twice in the first few minutes on both Saturday and Sunday, so we need to be better prepared for the start of the game,” said Sawyer. “But great resolve. Cash in on powerplays, kill penalties and find ways to get back into a game. Despite the results, we take a lot of good away from this weekend.”
Powell River continues a six-game road trip next weekend, visiting Cowichan on Friday, November 9, before the first matchup of the season against Alberni Valley on Saturday, November 10, and a visit to Nanaimo on Sunday, November 11.