|Bo Pieper (24) of the Coquitlam Express looks on in disbelieve|
after Alex Murray (35) comes up with the save of the series
In dramatic fashion the Prince George Spruce Kings found a way to fight another day after posting a 3-2 double overtime win while facing elimination in game five on Monday night in Prince George. The fans came out to show their support of the Spruce Kings on this night and they came prepared to make some noise ... and did they ever make some noise!
The Prince George Spruce Kings came out flying and ended up outshooting the Coquitlam Express 14-5 in the first period. It was the Express that opened the scoring when Corey Mackin and Ryan Rosenthal were able to steal the puck in the neutral zone and turn a two-on-one through the slot with Rosenthal passing over to Mackin to finish the play.
The score would remain 1-0 for the visitors until late in the second period when the Spruce Kings would get a powerplay chance to work with. From the faceoff draw, Chad Staley won the puck back to Justin Rai who dropped back to the right point. Rai faked the shot and then fired a crisp pass across the zone to the left point where Mitch Eden waited to unleash his one-timer. The shot from the point was a laser beam into the back of the net tying the game at one on the defenceman's third of the post season.
This goal was the first moment when everybody started believing again. A couple of shifts later the building was officially rocking when Marco Ballarin came on the ice and started laying the body with some big hits, none bigger than the one on Joey Santucci that led to a melee resulting in another powerplay for the Prince George Spruce. Powerplay goals have been a premium in this series with only two being scored between the two teams and this powerplay wouldn't change that total.
In the third period, the Spruce Kings would take the 2-1 lead when the trio of Chad Staley, Justin Rai and Chad Staley teamed up on a play that started low in the offensive zone. From the right corner Staley fired a tight shot into the blue paint that went off a stick in front. Rai poked at which allowed the puck to slide to the opposite side of the net for a waiting Luedtke to push in his first of the game at 7:41.
The Coquitlam Express stuck to their forechecking game plan that propelled them to within a game of eliminating Prince George. Again from centre ice, the Express line led by the Pieper brothers gained the Spruce Kings zone. Canon Pieper found Brendan Lamont the puck who then spotted Bo Pieper on the far right side and fed him the puck. With barely enough room to squeeze the puck between the post and the pads of Murray, Pieper did exactly that to tie the game up at 2 with over eight minutes remaining in regulation time.
Nothing would be settled in those final minutes leading to overtime ... a full twenty minute sudden death/victory overtime period played five on five. In that first overtime period the highlight of the period, if not the game, if not the series would be a save by Alex Murray as he reached across the face of the open net and snatched a sure goal out of the air off the stick of Brendan Lamont as he was set up by Bo Pieper (highlight video). Both teams would get their chances to end the game in that first overtime period with the Spruce Kings outshooting the Express 16-13.
In the end this game would need a second overtime period but just the first 22 seconds of it. With the top line on the ice to start double overtime, the Spruce Kings would gain the offensive zone on a nice dump in by Marco Ballarin. Chad Staley would take the first shot on goal that Gordie Defiel was able to stop. Staley got the rebound back on his stick and spotted Jeremiah Luedtke cruising through the slot with a pass onto the tape. As Luedtke faded through the slot, he just waited for the players in front to commit and fired a shot under the goaltender's glove hand (highlight video).
As the Coliseum crowd erupted the broadcast team of Ron St. Clair and Thomas Bohmer commented on how this now becomes a "bus series" and could be won or lost on how the team's manage their miles on the highway between the rinks. Immediately following the game both teams left Prince George for the Lower Mainland with the Spruce Kings pulling into their hotel just before 8am. Life on the road has been a constant for the Spruce Kings, but as we have already seen in this series, having a regular season stat on your side doesn't always equate to wins.
Game six will have to be won on the ice in the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex in Coquitlam on Tuesday night beginning at 7pm. The game will be broadcast live on 99.3 the Drive beginning with a pregame show at 6:45pm. The pay-per-view feed will be available through Fasthockey.com and although there will be audio available through the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel, it is recommended that those wanting to listen online do so through the radio station's streaming audio link (CLICK HERE TO LISTEN LIVE).