The Comox Valley Glacier Kings have reason to be encouraged as the home stretch of the regular season is upon them. Despite splitting their weekend series against the Kerry Park Islanders and Oceanside Generals, the Yetis played some of their best hockey of late, reminiscent of their early season Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League dominance.
“We’re getting better chances,” said GM/owner Dave Webb. “We’re shooting to score, instead of just shooting for the sake of shooting, and it’s working for us.”
On Thursday night, the team travelled to Kerry Park to take on the Islanders. Despite losing 5-2, the Kings battled especially hard in the second half, and amassed 36 shots on Kerry Park goaltender Matt Chester, who was the difference maker in the game.
Alex Milligan, Joel Gordon and Dayne Ellison all scored for the Islanders before the Kings even got on the board. It wasn’t until the third period, with a goal from rookie Ben Meadows, that the Kings hit the scoreboard. Kyle Peterson answered back for the Islanders before Brian Rideout scored on the power play for the Kings. Throw in an empty-netter for the Isles, and the final was 5-2. Cameron Large made 27 saves in the loss.
The following night, the Kings returned home to their friendly confines at the Comox Valley Sports Centre in a key matchup against the Oceanside Generals. Playing their best game in some time, the Glacier Kings got off to a fast start when newcomer Derek Nicholson blasted a shot past goaltender Michael Gudmandson. Garrett Halls and Mitch Ball tallied individual efforts to make it 3-0 after the first frame.
In the second, Garret Brandsma bagged his 13th of the year before Nathan Deyell got Oceanside on the board.
Mitch Ball banged in the Kings’ fifth goal just 18 seconds into the third period. Shane Dial and Travis Briggs scored late in the stanza for the Generals, but it wasn’t enough as Kings’ goaltender Jackson Winkler was on his game, making 27 saves for the 5-3 hard fought victory.
With just four games left in the regular season, it’s crunch time for the Yetis. It’s not so much a question if the Icemen will make the playoffs (every team does); it’s more a question where in the standings they will be admitted. Currently, the Kings hold down first place in the North Division with a comfortable five-point lead over second-place Oceanside.
The way the playoff format works, the Glacier Kings want to be as close to the top of the overall league standings as possible to obtain home-ice advantage. The impressive Victoria Cougars have sewn up first place overall, but second place is still up for grabs as the Icemen cling to a three-point lead over the Saanich Braves, who have a game in hand. The Kings wrap up their regular season Feb. 18 against those pesky Braves – a game which could have pivotal playoff implications.
Before the Glacier Kings get a chance to seal their playoff fate, they first face a weekend series against North Division rivals Campbell River Storm. First game goes tonight in Campbell River before the Kings return home Saturday for the latter half of the home-and-home. Puck drops in what promises to be an exciting affair at 7:30 p.m. at Sports Centre Arena #1 and can be heard at www.glacierkings.ca.