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2019 Playoff Preview: Kings vs Grizzlies

The grudge match….the decider….the one for all the marbles (at least until the next one). For the third straight year, the Powell River Kings and Victoria Grizzlies are set to meet in the 2nd round and battle for the Island Division Championship. With each of the previous two series being ended by overtime game winning goals, this matchup is poised to be a stellar affair.

Season Series
The Kings and Grizzlies played 8 games this regular season, with Powell River winning 6-2. It’s the most lopsided season series between the two teams since the Kings went 7-1 against a very undermanned and in turmoil Victoria team in the 2011/12 season.

September 8th: Kings won 5-3 (Hap Parker Arena)
September 28th: Grizzlies won 3-2 (Q Centre)
October 20th: Kings won 12-5 (Q Centre)
January 18th: Kings won 5-2 (Hap Parker Arena)
January 19th: Kings won 6-1 (Hap Parker Arena)
February 2nd: Kings won 4-3 (SO) (Q Centre)
February 3rd: Grizzlies won 6-2 (Q Centre)
February 17th: Kings won 8-3 (Hap Parker Arena)

The Kings outscored the Grizzlies 44-26, also out shooting the Grizzlies 288-263. The Kings were 4-0 in Powell River and went 2-2 in Nanaimo.

Damon James Photo

Offence
With 44 goals scored in the series and the Kings scoring at will in more than one game, it’s no surprise to see the offence dominate the way the series was played. Factor in the Kings and Grizzlies feature the top two point and goal scorers from the regular season in Ryan Brushett and Alex Newhook, and the pending best of seven could come to which big guns fire first and more often. Unlike the matchup against Nanaimo, the Kings were able to routinely power through Victoria’s defence, scoring three or more goals unanswered in 5 of the 8 games in the regular season.

For the Kings, Ryan Brushett again led the way against Victoria with 7 goals and 8 assists in 7 games. Mitch Williams was second among Powell River scorers with 5 goals and 9 assists, with Josh Coblenz (4-8-12) and Levi Glasman (6-2-8) also doing damage. In their first round matchup against the Nanaimo Clippers, Brushett was guarded closely and sat the final two games out due to suspension and recorded a single assist in the three games. Glasman led the way and sits in a share of 4th for overall playoff scoring.

Victoria Grizzlies/Kyle Robinson Photo

Victoria’s offence revolves around the ‘Fab Five’. Upcoming NHL Entry Draft prospects Alex Newhook and Alex Campbell, New York Rangers prospect Riley Hughes, BCHL defencemen scoring leader Carter Berger and Jeremie Bucheler account for 51.3% of the total goals scored by Victoria this year and 64.58% of the total number of powerplay tallies. In the season series, four of the five made up the top scorers for the Grizzlies. Newhook led the way with 8-8-16, with Hughes (4-8-12), A. Campbell (2-8-10) and Berger (1-6-7) trailing. In their four game sweep of Alberni, Newhook registered 3-5-8, with Berger (3-4-7), A. Campbell (3-3-6) and third year Grizzlies forward Marty Westhaver (3-3-6) following.

Defence
Powell River were the stingier of the two in the regular season with the Kings leading the Island Division in goals against with 180 through 58 games (3.1 per game). Victoria allowed just 188, 9th in the BCHL and 2nd in the Island Division.

In the season series, the Kings conceded 26 goals from the Victoria offence, with the Grizzlies scoring more than 3 goals on just a single occasion, whereas the Kings did it 5 times plus a shootout win in February. The shots totals also, narrowly, favoured the Kings with Powell River putting 288 shots on Kurtis Chapman, Zach Rose, Keenan Rancier and Charles Olivier-LePage, while Victoria managed 263 on Mitch Adamyk and Matteo Paler-Chow.

Damon James Photo

With Victoria’s Carter Berger leading all blueliners in scoring in the regular season, it’s no surprise to see his 1 goal and 6 assists stand up as leading the season series among defencemen. Kenny Johnson (1-3-4) and Brady MacDonald (1-3-4) also made a dent, with Bucheler registering 3 assists and scoring into his own net.

Powell River’s defence was considerably quieter on the scoresheet. Ryan Pouliot’s 1 goal and 2 assists was the most notable performance in 6 of the games against Victoria. Matt Rickard, who led Kings blueliners in scoring against Nanaimo through the regular season, had a pair of assists.

Goaltending
It was again Mitch Adamyk to carry the mail against the top-seeded Grizzlies this year, playing in 7 of the 8 games and going 5-2. Adamyk turned aside 209 of 230 Victoria shots, considerably busier than the 162/182 he made against Nanaimo in the same number of games. Adamyk’s numbers top all goaltender in the series, sporting a 3.16 GAA and .909sv% against the Grizzlies. Matteo Paler-Chow, who beat the Grizzlies in last year’s Island Division Final went 1-0 in two appearences (coming in relief of Adamyk in one game), with a 3.75 GAA and .894sv%.

Damon James Photo

In the playoffs so far, Adamyk is 3-1 with a 2.08 GAA and .918sv%. Matteo Paler-Chow earned the win in game 4 after coming in relief of Adamyk in the first intermission. He’s 1-0, a 1.11 GAA and .968sv% in just over 54 minutes worth of work.

The Grizzlies leaned on Kurtis Chapman once more this season and the veteran goaltender found it rough sailing against the Kings. Chapman was 1-3-1 against Powell River this year, making 165 saves on 186 shots. He had a 4.03 GAA and an .887sv%. Zach Rose is the other goalie the Kings could potentially see in this series. Rose was 1-1 in 3 appearances against Powell River, sporting a 4.46 GAA and .882sv%. The Kings also saw Keenan Rancier (0-1, 18.00 GAA, .538sv%) and Charles Olivier-LePage (0-0, 9.00 GAA, .700sv%) in that 12-5 win in October.

Chapman went 4-0 for the Grizzlies against Alberni in the first round. He carries a 2.41 GAA and a .920sv% into the series against Powell River.

Special Teams
For two teams that were at the top of the BCHL powerplay rankings for a majority of the season, the powerplay didn’t factor in much in the series. Powell River bring in the league’s best powerplay from the regular season, and also in the season series against Victoria as Powell River went 9/37 (24.32%) in the 8 games, highlighted by a 2/3 night in Victoria on February 2nd. Through their first round series against Nanaimo, the Kings powerplay ranks 2nd in the BCHL at 27.3%, converting on 5 of the 18 chances against the Clippers.

Damon James Photo

Victoria’s powerplay numbers through the regular season are slightly inflated due to some data entry errors at the Q Centre, however it is still an upper echelon powerplay unit anchored by some of the league’s leading scorers. Against Powell River, Victoria managed just 5 powerplay goals on 27 opportunities (18.52%). Victoria’s 5 powerplay goals came in 5 separate games, one in each. Victoria lead the BCHL on the powerplay through the first round, scoring 4 goals on 10 opportunities in their sweep of the Bulldogs.

An area of concern highlighted for the first round was the discipline from Powell River, as their numbers had trended largely downward in the back half of the BCHL season. The 17 penalties Powell River took in the first round is the 5th highest among the 8 teams remaining in the post season. Victoria (16), Trail (16) and Prince George (15) round out the group.

What’s on the Line?
With the two previous series’ being ended in Victoria, in overtime, there is a lot of history and rivalry on the line for both teams. The series will begin in Victoria with the Grizzlies holding home ice advantage for the third straight year. The full series schedule is as follows:

Game 1: Friday March 15th (7:00pm) – Q Centre, Victoria
Game 2: Saturday March 16th (7:00pm) – Q Centre, Victoria
Game 3: Monday March 18th (7:00pm) – Hap Parker Arena
Game 4: Tuesday March 19th (7:00pm) – Hap Parker Arena
Game 5*: Friday March 22nd (7:00pm) – Q Centre, Victoria
Game 6*: Saturday March 23rd (7:00pm) – Hap Parker Arena
Game 7*: Monday March 25th (7:00pm) – Q Centre, Victoria

The winner of this series will move onto the BCHL Semi Finals and take on the winner of the Prince George Spruce Kings/Chilliwack Chiefs series, which will decide a Mainland Division Champion. The winner of that third round series will battle the Interior Division Champions in the Fred Page Cup.

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