Kings finish first--again
by Glen Gibbs | Peak Sports
It’s something that Powell River Kings’ fans and players will never get used to and that’s a first-place finish in the Coastal Conference.
This year was a little tougher than the others, what with the welcome distraction of World Junior A Championships, but the Kings came through with a brilliant late season performance.
They began the weekend with three games on the road and three points behind Surrey Eagles for the top spot.
Kings beat Nanaimo Clippers 3-1 on Friday while Surrey lost to Kelowna’s Westside Warriors 4-2. This meant Powell River only needed to win one out of their two remaining games.
The mission was accomplished quickly when they rolled over the hapless Grizzlies in Victoria 7-0 and then put an exclamation point on the season with a 5-0 shutout of the Clippers in Nanaimo Sunday afternoon.
Kings got off to a great start on Friday when Jordan Benton and Daniel Schuler scored to give them a 2-0 lead in the third period.
Nanaimo got one back on a five-on-three powerplay but Kings’ Sean Maguire held them off the rest of the way until Cohen Adair scored into an empty net at 19:54.
With the win, and the news that Surrey had lost, Kings took the ice in Victoria on Saturday determined to seal the deal for first place.
They did that with three goals in the first four minutes and four in the period with Teal Burns and Adair each getting a pair.
JP Villeneuve scored the only goal of the second period and Teagan Waugh and Jon Jutzi got singles in the third to round out the scoring while Jonah Imoo recorded the shutout.
Kings went into Nanaimo for the 60th game of the year with nothing to prove and received two goals from affiliate call-up Jackson Garrett and singles from Jutzi, Evan Richardson and Matt Scarth to skate to their 39th win of the year.
With his back-to-back goose eggs, Imoo’s consecutive three shutouts, combined with Maguire’s three and Jamie Phillip’s five, gives the Kings 11 during the season.
Kings are top among goaltending duos category for the second year in a row. They also allowed the fewest goals in the league with 127, six less than Penticton Vees’ 133.
Of their weekend success and first-place finish head coach and general manager Kent Lewis said, “We had probably the biggest turnover in the division for players outside of Nanaimo. We had a lot to learn through the year and we were quite a ways away from first place at one point but just stuck, really, with our game plan.”
Lewis remarked that since Christmas player attendance has been more consistent, which has helped. “Your goal every year,” he said, “is to be good and be consistent and I think we’ve shown that in finishing first. Now the focus is not patting ourselves on the back too much, but we worked hard to get home ice and that’s what it is all about.”
Of their first-round opponent Lewis said Coquitlam Express has been a tough competitor during regular season. “With our division being as tight as it was,” he said, “it’s great with all four teams having great years and the playoffs are going to be very difficult.”
The first best-of-seven series against Coquitlam starts at 7:30 pm on Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17 at Hap Parker Arena.
Games three and four continue in Coquitlam on March 19 and 20.
Coquitlam Express begin playoff march Friday
By John Kurucz, Coquitlam NOW March 15, 2012
COQUITLAM — Buoyed by a 6-1-1 record in regular season play, the Coquitlam Express will look to continue their dominance over the Powell River Kings Friday as the two teams square off in B.C. Hockey League playoff action.
The Kings finished atop the Coastal Conference this season with 84 points, while Coquitlam finished fourth with 77 points.
Both teams are riding relative hot streaks headed into Friday’s contest, as Powell River posted an 8-2 record over their last 10 regular season games, while Coquitlam went 7-2-1.
Known for a stringent attention to detail on the backend, the Kings allowed a league-low 127 goals against this season compared to the 204 conceded by Coquitlam. The Express, however, held a slight advantage in goals for — 245 versus the 233 recorded by Powell River.
“They’re not the team that’s going to score six, seven, eight goals a game,” said Express captain and Coastal Conference MVP Alex Petan. “They’ve got really big players on the defensive end and they try to keep their goals against down, so we know the games aren’t going to be high scoring.”
Games 1 and 2 go Friday and Saturday in Powell River, while Games 3 and 4 take place Monday and Tuesday at the Poirier Sports Centre.
If needed, Game 5 goes Thursday in Powell River and Game 6 is scheduled for Friday, March 23 in Coquitlam. A Game 7 showdown would be played March 24 in Powell River.
More to come.
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Express begin playoff grind tonight
By John Kurucz, Coquitlam Now March 16, 2012
The commanding season series advantage now means next to nothing, while the gaudy power play numbers are yesterday's news. That 7-2-1 run headed into the playoffs? Fuggedaboutit.
And that's just the way Jon Calvano is approaching things these days, as his club prepares to begin its best-of-seven series with the Powell River Kings tonight (Friday).
"Whatever happened in the first 60 games of the year means nothing," the Express head coach said in an interview. "They are the three-time Coastal Conference champions, with a good, strong defence corps that allowed the lowest goals against in our conference."
The Express enter tonight's contest having enjoyed a 6-1-1 regular season record against Powell River, a club that finished seven points ahead of Coquitlam in the regular season.
"We know what they're like, they know what we're like," said Express captain Alex Petan, who was named Coastal Conference MVP earlier this week. "We kind of had their number this year and we played really well against them, so we're pretty excited to go in to their barn and work really hard."
Coquitlam's lone blemish against the Kings came by way of a 1-0 loss in Powell River, a game in which netminder Cole Huggins got the start.
"They're a really defensive-minded team," he said. "They want to produce on the chances they get, even though they don't get a lot. They like the back door plays and they like to cycle down low, so we just need to make sure that we've got the high guy covered to make sure they don't have an open shot."
The Kings' bread and butter is an adherence to total team defence, as evidenced by their leaguelow 127 goals against. In comparison, Coquitlam conceded 204 goals. The Express, however, held a slight advantage in goals for - 245 versus the 233 recorded by Powell River.
The Express also finished with the second best power play percentage in the league behind Penticton - one that clicked at 27 per cent - compared to Powell River's 19 per cent efficiency rating.
As far as penalty kill ratings go, the two teams are neck and neck: Powell River sat in third with an 82 per cent penalty kill ratio, while Coquitlam sat in fourth with 81 per cent.
"They're not the team that's going to score six, seven, eight goals a game," Petan said. "They've got really big players on the defensive end and they try to keep their goals against down, so we know the games aren't going to be high scoring. They're going to be 2-1, 3-1, 3-2 games and we've got to plan our game towards that."
In looking to prep for Friday, Calvano played coy about his team, downplaying any injuries or potential disruptions around his club. When asked which goalie would start Game 1, the Coquitlam coach countered with, "We're going to flip a coin."
According to Huggins, who sported a 21-6-2 record this season, knowing who gets the start well in advance is a moot point.
"It's nice to know before, but I'm ready no matter what even if I know I'm not starting. I'm going to be focusing all day long no matter what. The postseason is pretty much a new season for me. It's exciting."
In what looks an offence-versus-defence type of series, rookie sensation Alexander Kerfoot could be the X Factor, as the 17-year-old is a proven scorer with experience playing in pressure-packed situations thanks to his trip to last year's Telus Cup.
"We haven't had much trouble scoring this year," he said. "I think we'll still be able to score some goals, but they're able to score quite a few goals too. Defensively we haven't been great at times this year, so everyone is going to have to buy in."
Games 1 and 2 go Friday and Saturday in Powell River, while Games 3 and 4 take place Monday and Tuesday in Coquitlam. If needed, Game 5 goes Thursday in Powell River and Game 6 is scheduled for Friday, March 23 in Coquitlam. A Game 7 showdown would be played March 24 in Powell River.
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