The Kings kick off a home-heavy month of October with a pair of games against two of the Interior Division’s best teams this weekend at the Hap Parker Arena. Both the Trail Smoke Eaters and Wenatchee Wild will make two of the league’s longer road trips to play in Powell River on Friday and Saturday night. Here’s what you need to know:
Trail Smoke Eaters
Friday October 6 | 7:15pm | Hap Parker Arena
This will be the second matchup of the season between the two teams, and the middle leg of a season series which will end next Sunday when the Kings make their annual visit to Cominco Arena in Trail. The Smokies got the better of the Kings 4-2 at the Showcase in Chilliwack.
That game was very well played by Trail. They played the Kings very tight and didn’t allow much around the net. The Kings had gotten away from what had made them successful to date, which was high shot totals and traffic around the net. Through a combination of Kings inefficiencies and Trail strategies, the Smokies controlled much of that contest and were rightful victors.
Different atmosphere tonight in front of a home crowd on a Friday night, however the Kings will need to find a way to execute their game plan on home ice. That starts by getting a barrage of shots on net. The first four games of the regular season saw the Kings put up 43, 37, 40 and 51 shots on goal at an average of 43 per game. The last three, just 85 shots have gotten to opposition goalies at an average of 28. Unsurprisingly, the Kings were outshot in two of those games…the only times this season that’s happened. Both games were at the Showcase against Vernon (2-1 W) and Trail.
Expect a lot of offence this weekend. Trail sport the league’s top three scorers with Ross Armour (17 in 8), Kale Howarth (16 in 8) and Levi Glasman (13 in 8). For the Kings, Evans ranks 4th (13 in 7) and Turnbull sits 9th (11 in 7). Kevin Obssuth leads the Kings in goals with 6.
Defensively, Trail goalie Brandon Wells picked up the win at the Showcase against the Kings. He’s 3-2 on the season and is the on-paper starter as a 20 year old. His partner between the pipes is Tanner Marshall who is a perfect 3-0, beating Salmon Arm twice and Surrey once.
799. The number of kilometres the Smokies travelled yesterday.
Saturday October 7 | 7:15pm | Hap Parker Arena
This is the Wild’s third year in the BCHL and there’s been one constant when the Kings and Wenatchee lock up…brace yourself. The Wild are fast, they skate well and are hungry for the puck. They’re averaging just under 5 goals per game offensively, while giving up just over 2 per game defensively.
Those numbers carry through to a league-leading powerplay at 28.9% coming into weekend action, while also owning the 2nd best penalty kill at 90.5%. In fact the Wild, according to league stats, have given up just 2 powerplay goals this season on 21 times shorthanded.
That team offence is well spread over the map too. Lucas Sowder (10 in 6) and Jasper Weatherby (10 in 6) sit 13th and 14th on league scoring, Cooper Zech has chipped in better than a point per game from the blue line.
Wenatchee will be in the middle leg of a 3-in-3 for them this weekend as they stop in Chilliwack on Friday night to play the Chiefs, then head over to Cowichan Valley on Sunday afternoon to face the Chiefs before heading home.
Both Wenatchee goalies have posted solid numbers early in the season. Both are 19 years old with Seth Eisele playing the lions share of games so far. He’s 3-1 through 4 contests with a 2.25 goals against average and .901 save percentage. Beating him out in both categories is Jacob Acton who’s 1-0-1, 2.20 GAA and .917 sv% through his two appearances.
Notes for the Kings
Good news, bad news for the Kings this weekend. The good news is that Nathan Kelly returns to the lineup after missing a pair of games. Kelly sat and watched the Smokies beat the Kings 4-2, then the Kings get past the Bulldogs 4-1. He’s got 4 points through his first 5 in the BCHL so far and has made an impressive start to the season.
Bad news is that the Kings will be minus Jack Long who is dealing with a minor lower body injury. He’ll join Callum Volpe on the sidelines.