THE SET UP: Powell River is in a must win tonight in game four trailing the Vipers 3-0 in the best-of-seven Fred Page Cup. The Kings lost another one goal game last night 4-3 on John Knisley's game winning goal late in the third period. Knisley's winner came from the corner, as he threw it to the net and had the puck go off a King defender and in.
Powell River quite simply out played Vernon for the majority of the game yet still came out on the losing end. How does Vernon find a way to win? Being opportunistic.
When the Kings made a rare mistake it seemed like it would end up in their net. The Vipers scored twice in 50 seconds in the first off two miscues and the final two goals were the result of poor checking.
Powell River will need to find a way to play a desperate but air tight game from wire to wire.
GAME FOUR KEYS
The Kings will have to find a way not to deviate from their game plan and keep within their style of play for a complete 60 minutes in game four. Powell River did control game three for long period of stretches including most of the first and latter half of the second and third periods. However when the team made mental mistakes it seemed like the Vipers were there to pounce on them and manufacture goals. Good teams are opportunistic and tonight the Kings need to return the favour to the Vipers.
In my game three preview I stressed the power-play needed to kick into high gear and it did scoring twice on three opportunities and the penalty-kill came up with a short handed goal. Usually when that happens in a game you are sitting pretty so to speak. In saying that, in the Fred Page Cup you need to find a way to manufacture offense five on five.
Powell River was effective with their cycle game down below the circles in the Vernon end. The Kings executed a physical fore check on the Snakes defense and in turn created plenty of turnovers. However the team failed to get quality chances on goal from that and were frustrated for most of the night. For game four Powell River will have to find a way to work off the boards and drive the net and challenge Kirby Halcrow.
The twenty year-old's on this team won't let their final junior season end tonight and I expect you will see a desperate and determined effort by the entire team.
- Continue to throw the body on the Vipers D-core. The Kings pounded them for most of the night and were given opportunities in close.
- Get Kirby Halcrow moving. The Snakes 'tender didn't look very comfortable in goal last night as he had trouble with his rebound control and tracking the puck around his crease. If you can move the puck quickly there will be openings.
- Dont' allow Vernon to counter quickly through the neutral zone. The Vipers like to stretch it out with rink wide passes on their break outs. Get sticks and traffic through the middle of the ice.
- Play like its a game seven...from here on out it's do or die for Powell River. Play with that desperation and the dogged determination that we have seen before.
- Goaltending will need to be razor sharp
Vernon can win their third consecutive and 12th BCHL championship tonight at home. However the Vipers will have to better then last night to finish this series on home ice. One cold argue that the Vipes' were fortunate to win both games two and three. Vernon will have to match the desperation that the Kings will bring in game four and as the saying goes, the fourth game is the hardest to win.
The Snakes are on a roll as they're riding a seven game win streak dating back to game three against Salmon Arm. Vernon has kept themselves in a position to win in every game and as mention earlier are a very opportunistic team in this series.
Malcom Lyles finally broke out for a sterling performance in game three. The Kings did a masterful job in the previous two games of not allowing him to be a factor offensively. However last night we saw the talent he can bring utilizing his speed and vision to factor in the first two Viper goals. The Miami native can turn up the ice at a moments notice and become a offensive factor in any game. The Kings will need to keep him in check and not allow him to jump up on the rush.
Kirby Halcrow, who is the Player of the Week, will need to be his sharpest tonight. The Kings will certainly not leave anything on the table and that should mean an increased work load for the Vipers netminder. He didn't look as sharp last night in games past and the Kings will need to capitalize on the rebounds he will give out.
WHO'S HOT: Malcom Lyles was a one man wrecking crew last night. Lyles had a goal and a assist in the first 40 minutes of game three. The blue liner has the offensive abilities to be like a fourth forward but also can be a force in his own end.
Chad Niddery is trying everything he can to keep is junior career going. The 20 year-old had a goal and a assist as well to go along with his 18 points in 15 games. Niddery will need to be even better tonight up front to force a game five in Powell River.
STAT PACK: The Kings are 3-0 when facing elimination in the playoffs. However they haven't won in Vernon in their last four games. That will need to change tonight.
PUCK DROP: Pre-game show at 6:45pm and face-off at 7pm on 95-7 SUN FM.