The Powell River Kings will look to put a disappointing BCHL Showcase behind them, and move forward into the home and away portion of the BCHL Regular Season on a positive note. In order to do that, they’ll have to win away from home as the team heads to Vancouver Island for the first “3-in-3″ of the season against Nanaimo, Alberni and Cowichan. The Kings enter the weekend in 2nd place in the Island Division, but by the narrowest of margins, and only because all three teams they’ll face this weekend, went 0-2 in regulation at the Showcase in Chilliwack.
All three games will be broadcast live on the Kings Broadcast Network, which you can tune into 24/7 by going to http://www.powellriverkings.com. The pre-game show will start 30-minutes before opening faceoff all three games. Saturday’s contest in Alberni will also be simulcast on CJMP 90.1 FM in Powell River.
On this week’s episode of The Faceoff, we chat with Kings forward Kurt Keats about the Showcase and this weekend’s road trip. Also, Stefan Wornig and Carmine Buono are both included in the NHL’s Central Scouting watch list for the 2015 Entry Draft in Florida. We’ll talk with them about what it means and how they found out.
Here’s more information on all three games this weekend:
Friday September 26th | 7:00pm | Frank Crane Arena
Powell River Kings @ Nanaimo Clippers
The Clippers and Kings met in last year’s playoffs, a series that the Kings won in 5 games to advance to the 2nd round. It was a series where no lead was safe, with both teams surrendering 2-goal leads at multiple points. After the Kings got off to a 2-0 series lead (after trailing 2-0 in game 1), the Clippers won game 3, before the Kings split on the road and closed it out at home.
Several terms came out of the Nanaimo Clippers Showcase weekend, with “a bowl of spaghetti” being one of them. It was a term that Clippers Head Coach Mike Vandekamp used to describe his club’s opening game against Prince George, which ended up being a 6-4 win for the Spruce Kings. Statistically, you can draw a lot of similarities between the Kings and Clippers weekends…both were high scoring, both ended up in a pair of losses and both had a large number of special teams opportunities both ways.
The Clippers feature some key returning veterans including Brendan Taylor, Austin Dick, Nic Gushue and former Kings AP Corey Renwick. Among a large cast of new comers is Jacob Jackson, who is a San Jose draft pick (2013 201st overall) and Brett Roulston, who spent the last couple of years with the Western Hockey League’s Prince George Cougars. In goal, Guillaume Decelles comes to the club for his 20-year-old season after some time in the QMJHL.
Saturday September 27th | 7:00pm | Weyerhauser Arena
Powell River Kings @ Alberni Valley Bulldogs
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. That sums up Alberni’s season last year after an awful start to the season, the team rounded a corner and was able to come from nowhere to make the playoffs on the last day of the season thanks to a 3-0 shutout of the Kings and a Cowichan loss against Victoria. Once in, the Dogs got out to a 3-1 series lead over the heavily favoured Victoria Grizzlies, only to see it disappear and fall in 7 games in a stunning collapse. Just to make the dance was an achievement, but no doubt there is a feeling of “the one that got away” in Port Alberni.
The Bulldogs went 0-2 in the Showcase after two comeback attempts fell short against Penticton and Prince George by 4-3 and 6-5 results respectively. On both occasions, the Bulldogs surrendered multiple 1st period goals, without scoring one themselves. In fact it wasn’t until the final second of the 2nd period that the Dogs were able to get on the board against Penticton, and the team was down 5-1 late in the 2nd against Prince George.
Alberni is always a very difficult place to play. They have a passionate fan base, a loud and energetic arena and are looking to assemble a team to go one or two more steps than last year. The Bulldogs received a boost in the off-season, with the return of Evan Tironese for his 19-year-old season. Tironese (along with a couple of the Bulldogs top players) left for the USHL in the off-season, only for two to return to the BCHL this year. Tironese is a dangerous forward who can both score and setup. Also returning is defenceman Kurt Gosselin and forwards Dylan Haugen, Mitch Makin and Zak Bowles. The addition of Tyler Povelofskie from the Vernon Vipers is also a good addition up front.
The tandem in net for the Bulldogs is essentially brand new. Nathan Warren joined the team last season, however was injured for a bulk of the year, only seeing 4 games. Joining Warren is Billy Christopoulous, who comes to the BCHL from the USHL last season. The 20-year-old goalie is un-committed and will be looking to change that this season.
Sunday September 28th | 2:00pm | Island Savings Centre
Powell River Kings @ Cowichan Valley Capitals
The thing about playoffs is that only a certain number of teams make it, and if the Bulldogs were able to rally and come from nowhere to make the playoffs on the final day, that means one team had to miss out and that team was the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Give full credit to Alberni, but the Capitals blew a massive lead in the Island Division for the 4th spot and paid for it by an off-season that began when February turned to March.
The Capitals were the first team to start and end the Showcase, with early games on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, Vernon trumped the Caps by a 2-0 score in an entertaining game, while Cowichan then dropped a 5-3 decision to Merritt in a game that was close until Merritt broke the game open in the 3rd.
Cowichan feature a few key returnees, namely Colton Kehler, Brayden Gelsinger and Jesse Neher. On the back end, Charlie Penlnik joined the club from Langley in the off-season while Skylar Pacheco comes from the Spruce Kings. Both join Rylan Bechtel, a 3rd year Cap, on an experienced blue line. In net, Matthew Zentner joins after a year in the AJHL with the Camrose Kodiaks, while the younger Lane Michasiw is in his first year of Junior after a pair playing midget hockey in Saskatchewan.