In the last decade, an intense rivalry has developed between the Victoria Grizzlies and Powell River Kings. Both teams are often among the best in the league, and they have also faced each other often during the postseason.
Since 2011, the Grizzlies and Kings faced off several times in the playoffs. These matchups had consequences too as the winner usually had deep playoff runs. If the Grizzlies wanted to go far in the playoffs, Powell River stood in their way.
It’s the Island Division equivalent of the Vancouver Canucks vs the Chicago Blackhawks. Both teams developed an intense rivalry because of their playoff matchups. For Vancouver to advance in 2011, they needed to beat the Blackhawks and slay the dragon. The Kings are the Grizzlies dragon.
While each matchup is critical, five matchups highlight how critical the rivalry is. These include the 2011 Conference semifinal, the 2014 Island Division Final, and their three straight years of meeting in round 2 in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Some matchups will have critical games highlighted, including the after-effects of each. Beginning with their first matchup during the 2011 Coastal Conference semi-finals.
Because Powell River finished first in the Coastal Conference, the Kings earned a first-round bye. Victoria faced Nanaimo in the first round, defeating the Clippers 4-1.
Against the Kings, after the Grizzlies earned a 3-1 series lead, Powell River came back to win the series 4-3. Game seven saw the Kings win 4-1 and Justin Fillion scored the only Grizzlies goal.
After that series win, Powell River had a deep playoff run. They defeated the Surrey Eagles in six games and advanced to the Fred Page Cup Finals. In the finals against the Vernon Vipers, the Kings got swept in four.
The next critical matchup happened in the 2014 playoffs. Because of division realignment, both teams joined the Island Division. Victoria and Powell River finished 1-2 in the division.
The Kings and Grizzlies faced each other in the 2014 Island Division finals. The winner moved on to a round-robin tournament to determine the Fred Page Cup finalists. After a 2-0 series lead, the Kings fought back and won games three and four.
Game four alone had 54 minutes in penalties, including four roughing calls, two charging infractions, and two kneeing penalties. There was also a five-minute blow to the head penalty and a game misconduct. Victoria won the series 4-2 and moved on to the semi-final round-robin but didn’t advance to the Fred Page Cup final series.
After the 2016 playoffs, the format changed again. The Grizzlies and Kings met again during the playoffs a year later. It was the first of three straight second round matchups between the teams. The 2016-17 season saw Victoria and Powell River finish first and second in the Island Division.
Their 2017 second round meeting saw the Grizzlies win the series in seven games. The series saw three games go to overtime with two of them needing double OT. Victoria moved on to the Coastal semi-final and lost in six games to the Chilliwack Chiefs.
Their next chapter in the rivalry was during the 2018 playoffs. Victoria finished first in the division while Powell River was third during the regular season. The Kings upset the Grizzlies in five games and like the series four years prior, there was not love lost between the teams.
Game one had 22 penalty minutes while game two had 18 penalty minutes. After winning game three, the Grizzlies lost games four and five. Powell River faced the Spruce Kings in the Coastal semi-final and lost in five games.
The third matchup and what’s next
The third straight playoff series between Victoria and Powell River occurred during the 2019 playoffs. Just like the previous two years, the Grizzlies and Kings faced each other in round two. This time, the series went seven games and Victoria won the clincher 6-1.
With so much bad blood built up after so many high stakes games against each other, the teams piled on the penalty minutes. Game one had 38 penalty minutes, game three saw 20 penalty minutes assessed, and game five had 18. During game six though, there were a combined 90 penalty minutes.
There were six separate 10-minute misconducts, four roughing infractions, one roughing after the whistle penalty, and two slashing calls.
After defeating the Kings, the Grizzlies faced off against the Prince George Spruce Kings in the Coastal Conference final. The Spruce Kings swept Victoria in four games and won the Fred Page Cup by sweeping the Vernon Vipers.
In the 2020 playoffs, the Cowichan Valley Capitals eliminated the Kings in five games in the first round. Victoria was a crossover team that faced Salmon Arm in the Interior Conference and the Silverbacks swept the Grizzlies in four games.
During the extended pre-season, Victoria and Powell River were in different cohorts. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Powell River hasn’t played a game since March 6th. With the way the pandemic has disrupted things, it may be a while before the Kings and Grizzlies face off against each other.