|A scene from Wednesday's 6-0 win in Coquitlam|
After a day off taking in the sights and sounds of Vancouver, the Prince George Spruce Kings will make their way back to Cooquitlam for a second meeting this week against the Express. It will be the fourth meeting of the season so far and the second in three days. On Wednesday night, the Spruce Kings skated away with a 6-0 win to improve their record to 18-9-2-2 and just one point back of top spot in the Mainland Division.
Despite the seemingly lopsided affair, the game was anything but titled in favour of the visitors who were outshot 38-26. If not for the stellar play of goaltender Alex Murray - especially in the first period - this game could have turned out much different for Prince George.
"We were fortunate to get that win and in the way that we did," said Spruce Kings assistant coach, Colton Buffie. "We had maybe ten good scoring chances and scored on six of them."
The Coquitlam Express had that many and more chances including an empty net that somehow eluded Joey Santucci in the first period and at least three goal posts throughout the game.
"We are a good team defensively," added Buffie. "But we really can't be giving away that many chances to the opposition. We want to be better tonight and the players know they have to be better as well.
The Coquitlam Express have shown that they can light the lamp and with the exception of their last two games, have been doing exactly that outscoring their opposition on home ice 29-23 in the month of November. Unfortunately they may be a little more concerned about their December record and being outscored 14-1 in two games.
The Express were working on defensive systems during practice and Prince George should expect to see a different team tonight than what they saw on Wednesday night. Offensively, the Express are still potent as was seen two nights ago with all their scoring chances and ability to create odd-man rushes.
The Spruce Kings got goal scoring from six different players: Chad Staley (16), Jake Lebrun (11), Christian Weidauer (9), Jeremiah Luedtke (8), Matt Painchaud (2) and Caleb Thompson (2). A total of twelve players picked up at least a single point in the game including Alex Murray who helped set up two goals and newcomer Marco Ballarin who was also picked up his first BCHL points with two assists.
Making the most of their situations has been a constant for Prince George this season and they will have to find a way of doing it again after the return of Bryant Christian to the lineup was short lived. The Spruce Kings captain took a blind side hit where the principal point of contact was his jaw and was unable to return to the game.
Due to swelling and the recent injury to his jaw, there still hasn't been a determination as to the extent of the injury that Christian suffered. Doctors are still assessing x-rays taken following the hit and are waiting for Christian to return to Prince George before releasing their findings. Christian will obviously be out of the lineup tonight with hope being that he can return in time for next Saturday's game in Prince George.
The Spruce Kings will be looking to play the game they've been playing since losing their captain and restake their claim on top spot in the Mainland Division. Sitting one point back of the Langley Rivermen, a win tonight will put them back on top with a game in hand. The Rivermen are also playing tonight in Trail and will be looking to maintain at least their one point lead on the upstart Spruce Kings.
The Spruce Kings and Coquitlam Express game is scheduled for a 7pm start tonight from the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex. The game will be broadcast live online with the pay-per-view feed available through Fasthockey.com and a free audio only webcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 6:40pm.