As the 2017/2018 BC Hockey League (BCHL) season enters its final fortnight, Powell River Kings have found a purple patch of form, using a trio of weekend victories to extend its win streak to four games and keep pace with Nanaimo Clippers and Victoria Grizzlies atop Island Division standings.
Kings opened the weekend by hosting Merritt Centennials on February 9, a few weeks removed from a well-fought win in Merritt backstopped by affiliate goaltender Alex Rolfe. Kings again turned to Rolfe in the absence of Mitch Adamyk and Matteo Paler-Chow due to injury.
Ben Berard opening the scoring in the first period before Kings exploded for four goals in the second, including a pair of shorthanded markers from Ethan Kimball. Neal Samanski and Berard’s second goal helped propel the Kings to a 5-4 lead, while Hunter Findlater scored early in the third and Nick Abbott notched his first BCHL goal late in the period to give the Kings a 7-4 win.
Rolfe stopped 27 shots in the victory, his second league win.
“It was good for us to keep going with what we started last weekend and get another big win,” said Berard following Friday’s victory. “Rolfe played well, Freggle [Kimball] got those shorthanded goals and it was a good team effort.”
On February 10, Kings hosted West Kelowna Warriors. Rolfe started again and was tested by a high-powered offence, but Kings struck first through Berard, who scored shorthanded, with Carter Turnbull doubling the lead less than three minutes later.
A West Kelowna pushback early in the second period tied the game, however, power play goals by Kimball and Carmine Buono, along with Turnbull’s second of the contest, put the Kings out to a 5-2 lead, en route to a 5-3 win. Rolfe stopped a career-high 40 shots to improve his record with the Kings to 3-0.
“This has been such a surreal experience,” said Rolfe following Saturday’s win. “The boys in front have made my job so easy, everyone has been going 110 per cent and I’ve loved every minute of it up here.”
Kings interim head coach Brock Sawyer said he was pleased with the effort, noting that his team executed simple plays to great effect.
“It’s a simple game, but you have to earn your bounces and it’s great to see guys getting after pucks, getting to the front of the net and scoring,” said Sawyer. “Our second period start wasn’t the greatest, but we pushed back and found a way to get back in the game, getting to that third and fourth gear to push forward.”
On February 11, Powell River hosted Alberni Valley for the final time this season. Kevin Obssuth snapped a personal 10-game scoring slump with a pair of goals in a 4-1 win. Gavin Rauser and Jonny Evans contributed the remainder of the scoring and affiliate goaltender Derek Krall earned his first BCHL win in his first start.
Kings wrap up a seven-game home stand and the home portion of their 2017/2018 regular season schedule by hosting Vernon Vipers and Chilliwack Chiefs on Friday, February 16, and Sunday, February 18, at Hap Parker Arena.