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Weekend sweep lifts Kings to top of division

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POWELL RIVER, B.C. – The Kings from Powell River are now the kings of the B.C. Hockey League’s Island Division.

A weekend sweep in which the Kings rattled off back-to-back home wins against the Victoria Grizzlies, along with a Sunday afternoon road victory over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs gives the junior A squad an impressive 28-16-1 record.

The Kings are one point clear of the Grizzlies (27-15-0-2) in what has become a two-team battle for top spot in the division.

A sweep of the Grizzlies at Hap Parker Arena that included a 5-2 win on Friday and a 6-1 triumph on Saturday set the Kings up for what would become a perfect weekend.

They accomplished just that by edging the Bulldogs 2-1 at Weyerhaeuser Arena.

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Goaltender Matteo Paler-Chow stopped 27 of 28 shots to earn the win.

“We’ve been playing really well for the stretch of our last 20 games,” Kings head coach Tyler Kuntz said. “Our (winning) percentage is like .770, so we’ve been pretty good in the last 20, I think.”

Kuntz said the goaltending of Paler-Chow and Mitch Adamyk has been “really good.”

Overall, Kuntz said the players have been playing hard for the full 60 minutes and making life tough for their opponents.

“We’re just trying to play the same way the whole game and eventually things work out,” he said.

The head coach was impressed by his team’s resiliency on Sunday. The were up at six in the morning after playing the night before and then travelling south to Port Alberni to face a fresh team that didn’t have to play on Saturday.

“(We were) literally leaning into it the whole game,” Kuntz said.

Defence is doing it for the Kings. They’ve allowed the fewest goals in the Island Divison and are fourth in the entire league in that category.

“Our defenceman have been good,” Kuntz said. “After the break, we were missing three defencemen who were in our top six. Obviously getting Ryan Pouliot back, he drives the emotional bus for us, he’s invested every shift, and I think all of the defencemen kind of feed off of him.”

And the team has been on a huge run of success since acquiring 2000-born defenceman Ethan Martini from the Trail Smoke Eaters in a three-team trade back in November.

And Jaden Lee “is obviously Jaden Lee,” Kuntz said.

“I don’t think there’s many defenceman in our league who play as hard as him and can also create offence,” the coach added.

Leading the offence is Ryan Brushett, who sits second in the league in scoring with 33 goals (including four game winners) and 68 points.

Only Victoria’s Alex Newhook has more points than Brushett, with 70.

The Kings are back in action on Friday when they host the Penticton Vees at the Hap. Game time is 7:00 p.m.

The very next night, the Kings will entertain the visiting Surrey Eagles at the Hap, also with a 7:00 p.m. opening puck drop.

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