Finally, the Kings are back in action. It might only be exhibition, however seeing another colour jersey is just what the Kings are looking for this weekend as they both start and conclude their exhibition schedule. It’s been a full two weeks since camp opened at the Hap Parker Arena, and since then the Kings have been practicing almost daily, getting ready for what is hoped to be a long run into the post-season.
Step one in achieving that is forming a successful team, and with a few tough decisions left to be made that will happen for the most part this weekend. The exhibition games for the Kings have been where the team makes its final 1 or 2 cuts to get down to the 22 players the Kings will start the season with. For a team that doesn’t make a large number of trades, or have much roster turnover (outside of college commitments and overaging), these final few cuts are a big deal.
“The Faceoff” is a new weekly video giving you all the vital information for the Kings weekend ahead. I’ll have the call of all three games for you live on the Kings Broadcast Network, beginning 15-minutes prior to opening faceoff each game. To listen in, click here.
For those wanting a bit more reading on the weekend, here’s a rundown of all three games.
The Kings will see three different opponents this weekend, here’s a quick rundown:
Friday September 12th | 7:00pm | Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex
Powell River Kings @ Coquitlam Express
The Express are the reigning BCHL Champions, after getting through the first two rounds of the playoffs, then the round robin against Vernon and Victoria, before sweeping aside Vernon in the league final. Unfortunately the run didn’t go much further as the team failed to progress past the Western Canada Cup. As with any championship side, there will be a lot of new pieces to the Express puzzle and while there’s not a full roster of the club available at the moment, some of the pieces they have in place should make for a tough opponent.
Returnees Corey Mackin, Joey Santucci and Jackson Cressey (among others) will all shoulder more of the load, while new additions like Colton Kerfoot (brother of former Express forward Alex Kerfoot) will add their own flare. This is an Express team that few picked to win it all last year, but they did it by peaking at the right time. It was a slow build for a club in its first year with Head Coach Barry Wolfe, but the team’s ability to beat out both Prince George and Langley at the pointy end of the season means the Fred Page Cup will be on display in the lower mainland.
In goal, Pierce Dushenko is the incumbent as he backed up Gordie Defiel last season, while rookie netminder Braden Krogfoss went 0-3 in 4 appearances with the Trail Smoke Eaters last season.
Saturday September 13th | 7:00pm | Prospera Centre
Powell River Kings @ Chilliwack Chiefs
The Kings will get an early look at their first opponent of the season in the middle game of this exhibition road trip. The Chiefs have nowhere to go but up as they finished a distance 5th in the Mainland Division last season, and will have a new identity this year with a new Head Coach in Jason Tatarnic.
Not much remains from a tough season last year, however one bright spot was Jordan Kawaguchi. The now 17 year old defenceman was given a BCHL baptism by fire last year and was a bright spot for much of the year. Also back are defenceman Eric Roberts and forward Cole Sartorio.
It will be interesting to see what changes in the systems and the way the Chiefs play. Under outgoing Head Coach Harvey Smyl, the Chiefs played a very physical style of game, constantly on the edge and often got burned by penalties. However when the game plan worked and that line was walked, the Chiefs were a very very tough team to play against and you felt really happy if you were able to take points out of Prospera.
Sunday September 14th | 2:00pm | Langley Events Centre
Powell River Kings @ Langley Rivermen
Like the Express, the Rivermen are coming off a ‘banner’ season. For the first time in team history, the captured the BCHL Mainland Division, and the Regular Season Championship as well. It was an excellent achievement for a young franchise still developing their own footprint, and they did it with a good mix of size and skill. There are parts of both returning in this year’s roster, including forwards Will Cook and Evan Anderson, while defenceman Jacob Kearley will give the team some size and familiarity with the Kings as he was a Victoria Grizzlies d-man last season.
Also on the roster is former Powell River King Trevor MacLean. The North Vancouver product played 30 games for the Kings last season, scoring once and assisting on 9 others. He then went on to AP with the Rivermen for 5 games. Now in his 19 year old season, he’ll be looked upon to shoulder more of the load in Rivermen blue, and will no doubt be excited to play against his former club.
In net, it appears crowded. The team bought in Tyrell King from Kindersley in the off-season, however until recently he was listed as ‘suspended’ by the club. Other goaltenders listed are former Surrey Eagle Bo Didur and 19-year-old Calgary product Darren Martin.