THE SET UP
The Vipers lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 after taking both games in Powell River by a combined score of 4-1. Vernon took game two 1-0 on a goal by Dave Robinson with just over five minutes left in the third period.
The Kings have put 46 shots on Kirby Halcrow in two games, but Dan Schuler, in the second period of game one, is the only King to score thus far.
Game three shifts to Vernon at the Wesbild Centre where the Vipers are 3-3 in the playoffs. The Kings dropped their only game in Vernon this season 3-2 back on January 21st. The Kings lost their first two road games of the playoffs in Victoria in games 3 and 4, but have won their last four picking up wins in game 6 in Victoria and games 3, 4 and 6 versus Surrey.
The Kings have hit a dry spell offensively in the BCHL Finals. Through two games, Powell River has been outscored 4-1 by the Vipers. However, it isn't for a lack of effort, as the Kings have put 46 shots on net in two games but the coaches will tell you that is not nearly enough.
Powell River will need to get pucks through to the net and get the "ugly goals" to get on the scoresheet. The first two games have been very tight as both teams are in a chess match so to speak. Every inch of ice has been contested and that won't change in Vernon. So how do they do it?
The power-play is one area that needs to find success. In their 8 wins in the playoffs, the Kings have scored a power-play goal in six of them. Furthermore, in three of the four road wins the Kings have scored two or more power-play goals. It's safe to say the power-play will need to start producing for Powell River to get back into this series.
In saying that the Kings will also have to generate more offense playing five on five. The Kings' only goal came at even strength in game one. That goal was scored on a rebound off the end wall by Dan Schuler and they will need more of that going forward. The Kings will have to find a way to get more pucks on net and generate second and third opportunities around the Vernon net.
As the saying goes, "if ain't broke don't fix it." The Vipers presumably won't be making any major changes to their game. Vernon took two games in Powell River by being opportunitsitc and playing cautious when in their own end.
Vernon was successful at clogging up the middle of the ice in both the neutral and defensive zones. The Vipers come back hard and use their stick to disrupt not only passing but shooting lanes as well. The Kings will need to find a way to fight through the traffic and find what open space there is and get to Kirby Halcrow.
At the center of their success in the post-season has been scoring first. The Vipers are 10-0 in the playoffs when scoring first, but 0-4 when the opposition scores first. As you can gather, the Kings will need to find a way to get the first goal tonight and play with a lead for the first time in the series.
The Vipers are expecting a nearly sold out crowd and will be feeding off the energy at the start of this game. The Kings will have to match Vernon's intensity to start the first period and try to take the crowd out of the game early.
Kirby Halcrow has stopped 45 of 46 shots in games one and two. Halcrow has not allowed a goal in 80:56, dating back to the late stages of the second period in game one. The Vernon netminder has dropped his goals against to just over two and bumped up his save percentage over 90 percent. However, don't discount Mike Garteig either.
Garteig has been tagged with both losses but has a goals against under two and a save percentage just above 92 percent. The 19 year-old has been stellar in the playoffs to date and he will have to outduel Halcrow in order for the Kings to win tonight.
Both team's defensemen have played great, blocking a lot of shots and snuffing out rushes. At this point in the series, Powell River's defense is going to have to step it up that much more in order to climb back in to the series.
STAT PACK: The Kings will be looking for their fifth straight road win in the playoffs. The win streak dates back to game six in Victoria.
PUCK DROP: The broadcast gets underway at 6:45pm on 95-7 SUN FM.