This update comes from gate A1 at the Vancouver International Airport.
The Kings received an early Christmas present this morning from the CJHL.
The Kings exchanged their holiday well wishes with one another yesterday, as the players start to make their way home, wherever that may be. Powell River heads into the break as the number one ranked team in the BCHL, and the country. The Kings have a 13 point lead atop the Coastal Conference standings with three games in hand on second place Langley. Many positives to look at indeed.
- The Kings sport a record of 28-5-3-2, which is a staggering winning percentage slightly above .800. Powell River not surpisingly owns the league's best home and road records. What has impressed me most is how they play as well on the road as they do at home. You have to go back to October 23rd in Salmon Arm to find their last regulation loss on the road. That's almost two months.
- Much has been made of the Kings stingy, almost air tight defense. Powell River has a goals against average of 1.66. To put that into perspective, Vernon is second in goals against and has allowed 26 more goals. The seven that have been put together on the blue line are exceeding expectations in a big way.
- Powell River boast two blue liners that will be going to Ohio State University over the next two years. Justin DaSilva and Craig Dalrymple have been imposing forces for the Kings. Their height and speed makes a deadly combination. Those two won't be the only defensemen who will play college puck. I expect both Jon Jutzi and Jason Yee will also find a home in the NCAA. The pair has developed into a top shut down pair and Jutzi is starting to find his rythm on the power-play as well.
- Don't forget about Chris Williams and Braden Pears. Williams is making a name for himself as one of the hardest D-men to play against. He also gets my vote as the most intimdating to look at. Just watch him on the ice, the stare is chilling. Pears at times gets past over as he is the "smallest" of the six. Many also forget he is only 17 and could blosom into a premier defender in the BCHL. He is one of the best skaters I've seen.
- I can't mention the defense without giving credit to the two men who stop the puck. What's left say about Mike Garteig? All he's done is assemble the lowest goals against average, highest save percentage, the most wins and the most shutouts in the BCHL. Some argue is numbers are from the six that play in front of him. However, when I last checked pucks still have to be stopped, and boy does he do a lot of that. I have lost count of how many key saves he has made. Sean Maguire hasn't missed a step either. Mags is second only to Garteig amongst the goaltenders in the league. His athletic ability is second to none and the sky is the limit for the 17 year old.
- When you mention the forward group, Matt Garbowsky and Chad Niddery are the first names to come to mind. The former went into the break in style. Garbowsky registered a hat trick, two of which were power-play markers. Garbs leads the team in goals (25) power-play goals (10) and short handed goals (7). Captain Clutch? Garbowsky's co-captain has been heating up too.
Niddery leads the team in points with 51 and assists with 39 in 35 games this season, about 1.5 points per game. If you extrapolate those numbers over the remaining 25 games, Niddery is on pace for an 89 point season. That's a 23 point increase from last season. Hey, the other forwards ain't bad either.
Their line-mate, Dan Schuler, is averaging just under a point per game as he has 25 points in 29 games. Remember he's in his first season and has missed what amounts to almost a month due to injuries. Same too goes for Cohen Adair and Andrew Pettitt, who are two thirds of the regular second line. Adair and Pettitt are both expected to be healthy for the 29th. Adair was having a great start before his upper body injury last month. The 19 year old has 28 points on 14 goals. Pettitt was starting to heat up after a slower than anticipated start, before he was also saddled with an upper body injury.
I would be a fool not to mention the emergence of a talented trio. Carter Shinkaruk, Brenden Forbes and Teagan Waugh have stepped up recently to form a new look second line and they have been clicking. Waugh had a five game goal streak snapped against Victoria and Forbes and Shinkaruk were averaging over a point per game in December.
All in all, this team is on the right track as we wind down 2010. Here's to an even greater new year and a deep playoff run.