When the 2009/10 British Columbia Hockey League schedule hit Kent Lewis's desk, there were groans. The Powell River Kings' head coach has been around the league long enough that there isn't much he hasn't experienced, but he had to go back a ways to recall a four-games-in-four-days gauntlet like the one his team was set to face to begin October.
Challenging? Yeah. Tiring? Absolutely. But the Kings capped the improbable on Sunday, defeating the Nanaimo Clippers by a 1-0 margin to win their fourth game of that gruelling four-day stretch. And while the eight points alone make Powell River's effort stand out, the way in which they strung together the victories was all the more impressive.
Following a 6-3 home ice win over Langley on Thursday, the Kings rung up road wins in Alberni Valley, Cowichan Valley and Nanaimo. And in capturing those three games away from home, they allowed just a single goal.
“We knew this was going to be a challenging stretch for us,” Lewis says. “But there are lots of challenges and every team faces them. We stunk pretty bad in Surrey (in a 4-0 loss on September 20th) and the following week was pretty tough (in practice). The guys realized how hard they have to work to be successful.”
And with the four-game/four-day stretch coming at the tail end of a seven-in-ten grind, they had to learn on the fly.
“We got really good goaltending and strong play from our defencemen, and we kept the shots on goal low,” Lewis explains.
Kings' netminder Josh Watson started and won all three of his team's weekend road games, allowing one goal on 28 shots in Alberni Valley before shutting out the Cowichan Valley Captials and Nanaimo Clippers while making 16 and 31 saves respectively. He was named the game's first star against the Bulldogs and Clippers.
“The guys did what it takes to win,” Kings play-by-play broadcaster Dean Merrick says. ” As good as Josh (Watson) was, the guys in front of him were sacrificing the body and blocking shots. They helped him out alot, and if it wasn't for a turnover on Friday they could have gone the whole trip without giving up a goal.”
And while eight points in four days is about as good as it gets in regular season hockey, the Kings now have something just as satisfying to look forward to: a good night's sleep and some rest. Powell River is now idle until Friday, when they host Quesnel.