If any Powell River Kings fan had lingering concerns about depth in the goaltending position with Mitch Adamyk and Matteo Paler-Chow on the injured list, they were answered by Nanaimo-based affiliate goaltender Derek Krall this weekend at Hap Parker Arena.
On February 16, Kings hosted Vernon Vipers in the third game of the season series. The teams split the first two games with each club winning once.
Powell River took a 1-0 advantage in the first period through Ben Berard’s 26th goal of the season before Vernon players found their legs in the second period, badly outshooting the home team 25 to 7. Powell River still managed to extend the lead, again through Berard, on a floater shot that snuck by the Vernon goaltender for a 2-0 advantage after 40 minutes.
Vipers spoiled Krall’s shutout attempt by scoring midway through the third period, however Kings closed out the game thanks to a late Vipers penalty and earned the win by a 2-1 score. Krall stopped 46 opposition shots.
“Krall was unbelievable for us tonight,” said Berard, who was awarded second-star honours. “Everyone is really buckling down with Paler-Chow and Adamyk out, working hard defensively, and it’s good to see.”
Kings wrapped the home portion of their 2017/2018 BC Hockey League schedule by hosting Chilliwack Chiefs on February 18. The team saluted its graduating 20-year-old players by starting all five to open the game, and the combined 713 games of BCHL experience paid dividends with forward Kevin Obssuth opening the scoring just 52 seconds in.
A dominant first period was punctuated with four Kings goals; Obssuth added his second of the game to complement goals by Ethan Kimball and Jack Long for a 4-1 lead after 20 minutes. Berard added another in the second period, before Jonny Evans and Berard scored in the third for a 7-1 win.
Krall earned his third BCHL win, stopping 39 Chilliwack shots.
“Today was such a great environment, the crowd was great and it was good to get a big win,” said Kings defender Jack Long. “The guys know what’s on the line, battling for first place in the Island Division and for us to come out flying was great and put us on our way.”
The win marks a season-high sixth consecutive victory, with Powell River earning 13 of a possible 14 points from a seven-game home stand.
“Our first five minutes tonight was unbelievable and really set the tone for the rest of the game,” said interim head coach Brock Sawyer. “We got scoring up and down the lineup, chipping in and creating opportunities. We have a bit to clean up defensively, giving up 40 shots, but Derek [Krall] stood tall and we got the win.”
On Monday, Krall was named BCHL Player of the Week by the league, recognizing his 3-0 record, 1.00 goals against average and .973 save percentage in wins against Alberni Valley, Vernon and Chilliwack.
Kings wrap up regular season play on Vancouver Island next weekend, visiting Cowichan on Friday, February 23, then Alberni Valley for a doubleheader Saturday and Sunday, February 24 and 25.