GAME DAY: VICTORIA VS. POWELL RIVER 7: 30 p.m. at Hap Parker Arena
After a terribly troublesome result in a last Sunday's 5-1 loss to Langley, the Victoria Grizzlies certainly shouldn't be expecting a charity hand out tonight in Powell River against the Kings.
It will be anything but easy at Hap Parker Arena, where the Hap doesn't usually stand for Happy for visiting B.C. Hockey League teams, in particular Victoria.
Over the past three seasons the Grizzlies have gone 1-10 in Powell River. The one win, a 4-3 overtime result, came during the 2010-11 post-season. In that series, Victoria had a 3-1 series lead only to see that evaporate into a shocking 4-3 best-of-seven setback.
Last season, the Grizzlies dropped a 5-2 decision early in the campaign and then were demolished 13-1 and 6-0 over a weekend sweep after the team was dismantled at the trade deadline.
The bottom line is, Powell River is a tough trip for any BCHL opponent.
"It's a long day to travel, including the ferry, and they're pretty good in their own arena," said veteran Grizzlies forward Myles Powell, who hails from Courtenay where Victoria takes a three-plus-hour bus ride through before adding an 85-minute ferry trip.
Add the fact that the Grizzlies are slated to be back home on Saturday at 7: 15 p.m. to face Surrey and you've got a tough BCHL weekend ahead for the first-place Island Division team.
The positive news is the Grizzlies have been very good after a loss - and last Sunday's was one of the worst of the season. It came after playing three games in three days and missing six regulars.
"Hopefully, that trend will continue," Grizzlies general manager and head coach Bill Bestwick said of bounce-back games. "I think we've only lost two in a row twice this year. So our team has been very good after a defeat.
"We're going into a place where it's not easy to win, if we can come out of there with two points in a Island Division game; another one of those four-pointers; and with only four games before Christmas after that ... We'd like to go with three or four wins out of five, if we can," he said.
They'll need some production out of Powell and linemates Chase Kaiser and Mark McLellan, who have been very good of late.
"It's a huge game," said Powell of the Powell River run. "If we can win, we keep a first-place lock and that's two more points they can't have."
It would also make the trip back a little easier.
"Even though it's a home game on Saturday, it's like another away game, coming home in the afternoon," he said. "At least we'll have the home fans here."
"For us, coming back on Saturday, we'll get home at 1 p.m. and Surrey doesn't play on Friday, so they'll be well rested and waiting on us," said Bestwick. "So it is a tough weekend and we're playing two very good teams."
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