Heading into the first game back after an extended break for Christmas, the Spruce Kings knew that rust could play a role and a quick start would be a good thing if they were to get their four game Coastal Conference road trip off on the right note. Another area of the game that the Spruce Kings wanted to see improvement in was the play between the pipes - without question, Kyle Nielsen gave the team that and was the Spruce Kings best player on the night. Through the first twenty minutes the Spruce Kings found themselves in a scoreless tie with the Coastal Kings despite being outshot 17-11. After forty minutes the game was still tied but this time at one goal each and again the Powell River Kings outshot the Spruce Kings, this time 16-7. In the final frame Nielsen faced another 17 shots, turning aside 16 of them for a game total of 48 saves on 50 shots.
Despite that strong performance in goal, the Spruce Kings were unable to get their offense going and were only able to find the back of the net once. Marcus Watson opened the scoring for Prince George with a quick goal just 18 seconds into the second period after the Powell River Kings looked like they were going to dictate the game with a strong physical prescence. After a couple of big hits off the opening faceoff, Justin Fillion was able to get the puck up to Zac Rasmussen who fed Marcus Watson a nice pass to get into the zone and move in on Gartieg before letting go with a quick shot that beat the Prince George minor hockey product. The Spruce Kings kept pressing and got a few chances, but perhaps the first "Crowning Moment" of the game came as the result of a missed hit in the offensive zone.
With the Spruce Kings pressing hard and getting pucks down low in the offensive zone, an opportunity presented itself for a big hit behind the Powell River net. Brooks Robinson had his guy in his sights and was moving in for the kill shot; problem was that Marcus Watson was in behind the intended target going for the puck and when the Powell River defender ducked the check at the last second, Robinson hit Watson. While getting up, Gartieg slapped at Watson's ankles which prompted a bit of a verbal exchange between the two players. Perhaps if the referee had saw this he might have blown the play down which would not have allowed the Powell River Kings the odd-man chance in the Spruce Kings zone that eventually produced the tieing goal.
Newly acquired Powell River Kings forward, Daniel Carr looked to have a sure goal after getting a feed from behind the net in the slot. His shot was stopped by Nielsen and the entire building went from a partial goal celebration, to the groan of realizing that the puck stayed out. The disappointment of the non-goal was just as short-lived when Chad Niddery came in as the free man on the play, was able to find the loose puck and put it into the net for the first of two on the night and his tenth of the season. The goal turned into the start of a momentum swing that gave Powell River some new life and started to take the life out of the Spruce Kings.
Shortly after the tieing goal, Ben Schmidt got called for a boarding penalty after taking a run at Jesse Scrimbit from behind. Scrimbit took exception to the hit and the pair dropped the gloves. While trying to grab onto the sweater, Schmidt appeared to gouge Scrimbit but was not called for the illegal use of his hands. Besides the offsetting majors for fighting, the Spruce Kings were given the powerplay opportunity for the boarding call. With the man advantage, the Spruce Kings had a couple of chances - the best coming off the stick of Joe Morgan who beat Michael Gartieg but was stopped by the cross bar.
The third period saw the Spruce Kings get another great chance to reclaim the lead when Sam Muchalla's shot careemed off of Gartieg and landed on the stick of Nick DeSousa who was coming in hard on the opposite side. After stringing together some great numbers and getting to 18 goals in the reqular season prior to the break, DeSousa fired just wide off the shortside post. Those chances and a few others would start to come back to haunt the Spruce Kings as the game progressed and the Powell River Kings went on the attack. In one situation down in the Spruce Kings end, Wes McLeod was called for holding his opponent giving Powell River their fourth powerplay of the game. It took almost the full two minutes, but the Coastal Kings would get thier first powerplay goal of the game at 8:57 and take the 2-1 lead.
The Spruce Kings would get one more chance with the extra man themselves, but could not get anything through on the Powell River net and came away empty handed on the powerplay. To make matters worse, the Spruce Kings had to pull their best player of the game from between the pipes in hopes of scoring a goal to tie the game with Kyle Nielsen on the bench. In the dying seconds of the game, Justin Dasilva was able to step up and stop a breakway pass and lobe a high dump in towards the Prince George net that crossed the goal line with 1.2 seconds left in the game. The Spruce Kings lost 3-1 giving up 51 shots against while only registering 24 for. Next up is the Surrey Eagles and the lone game in the BCHL on Wednesday night with a 7:00pm start time.
The Surrey Eagles are sitting in third place in the Coastal Conference with a record of 23-15-0-4 for 50 points in 42 games, four points back of Powell River and one point up on the Langley Chiefs. The Eagles appear to be a fairly balanced team with an identical 3.30 goals for and goals against average per game. Their points leader is Michael Krgovich (pron: Kirk-oh-vich) with 15 goals and 27 assists through 42 games. Just behind Krgovich is Grant Toulmin, who suited up for the Prince George Spruce Kings at the tail end of the 2007-08 season, and Andrew Wallace who both have identical records of 12 goals and 26 assists through 42 games. Chris Santiago is the team's goal scoring leader with 16 followed by Krgovich with 15 and Adam Basford with 14.
At the time of writing this, Andrew Walsh has still not caught up with his new team but is expected to be on the bus when the Spruce Kings head to the South Surrey Arena for tonight's game. Walsh is also expected to get the start in goal with Nielsen on the bench in a backup role. Although there may be a few tweaks with the line combinations before the game tonight, I don't expect to see too many changes in the lines or defensive pairings. Last night in Powell River, the Spruce Kings went with Zac Rasmussen, Brooks Robinson and Marcus Watson; Joe Morgan, Nick DeSousa and Sam Muchalla; Lyndon Martell, Kyle Manlow and RJay Berra; Jonathan Gibson, Jeff Earnest and Stewart Lambert up front. Defensively the pairings were predominately Wes McLeod with Justin Fillion, Brad Bourke with Jesse Scrimbit and Josh Pineiro with Jeff Datoff.
*note* ... just received the lineup card ... there are a few more changes than expected ... Sam Muchalla, Brooks Robinson and Jeff Earnest; Joe Morgan, Nick DeSousa and RJay Berra; Lyndon Martell, Zac Rasmussen and Marcus Watson; Luke Hannas, Kyle Manlow and Jeremy Wiebe ... talking with Ed Dempsey, he is trying to maximize his offensive weapons on the larger Olympic size rink. No surprises with the defensive pairings: Wes McLeod and Justin Fillion, Brad Bourke and Josh Pineiro, Jesse Scrimbit and Jonathan Gibson. Andrew Walsh will be starting in net with Kyle Nielsen in a backup role. Steve Papciak is a scratch along with Jeff Datoff and Stewart Lambert.
Game time is at 7:00pm and will be broadcast live on 93.1 CFIS-FM and also online from the Spruce Kings website (click the CFIS-FM listen live image) or from the CFIS-FM website beginning at 6:40pm. Those fans interested in watching the game online from Surrey can do so with a pay-per-view account from the BCHL website. Following the game the Spruce Kings will head back to their Lower Mainland home base in Surrey for a day off from game play but are expected to skate at the Langley Events Centre in the afternoon. On Friday they will play the Burnaby Express before wrapping up the four game road trip against the Chiefs in Langley on Saturday night.
1 Mike Chan (G 6'00" 170 5/16/90 Abbotsford, BC, CAN) (GP 6 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 00 PIMs)
4 Jeff Regier (D 6'01" 195 1/03/91 Abbotsford, BC, CAN) (GP 33 G 3 A 4 Pts 7 62 PIMs)
5 Paul Levarsky (D 6'01" 205 1/16/89 Surrey, BC, CAN) (GP 42 G 2 A 9 Pts 11 36 PIMs)
6 Derek Henderson (D 5'11" 188 2/09/90 Langley, BC, CAN) (GP 19 G 1 A 2 Pts 3 46 PIMs)
9 Adam Basford (F 6'01" 175 3/06/89 Richmond, BC, CAN) (GP 16 G 14 A 6 Pts 20 10 PIMs)
12 Connor Tiechko (F 6'00" 175 4/22/92 Chilliwack, BC, CAN) (GP 32 G 1 A 6 Pts 7 08 PIMs)
13 Michael Krgovich (F 6'00" 180 1/29/90 Coquitlam, BC, CAN) (GP 42 G 15 A 27 Pts 42 66 PIMs)
15 Cam Lawson (F 5'07" 155 1/16/93 Vancouver, BC, CAN) (GP 1 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 00 PIMs)
17 Bradley McGowan (F 5'11" 175 4/09/90 Langley, BC, CAN) (GP 40 G 9 A 23 Pts 32 13 PIMs)
18 Dante Godhino (F 6'00" 170 3/05/92 West Vancouver, BC, CAN) (GP 1 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 00 PIMs)
20 Richard Vanderhoek (F 5'10" 180 1/20/91 Langley, BC, CAN) (GP 36 G 12 A 16 Pts 28 42 PIMs)
21 Erik Cooper (F 5'10" 172 10/30/91 Anchorage, AL, USA) (GP 35 G 1 A 5 Pts 6 18 PIMs)
22 Jesse Pauls (D 5'10" 160 2/10/92 Chilliwack, BC, CAN) (GP 8 G 1 A 0 Pts 1 06 PIMs)
24 Neil Blunden (D 5'11" 176 2/05/90 Montreal, PQ, CAN) (GP 36 G 5 A 6 Pts 11 22 PIMs)
27 Cole Gelley (D 6'00" 180 1/14/91 North Vancouver, BC, CAN) (GP 40 G 1 A 19 Pts 20 18 PIMs)
29 Vinny Lessard (G 6'01" 185 5/11/90 Beaconsfield, PQ, CAN) (GP 29 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 00 PIMs)
66 Grant Toulmin (F 6'05" 210 3/02/89 Langley, BC, CAN) (GP 42 G 12 A 26 Pts 38 77 PIMs)
86 Tyler Morley (F 5'08" 160 12/19/91 Burnaby, BC, CAN) (GP 35 G 6 A 16 Pts 22 40 PIMs)
89 Andrew Wallace (F 5'10" 180 4/27/89 Bedford, NS, CAN) (GP 42 G 12 A 26 Pts 38 48 PIMs)
96 Chris Santiago (F 5'11" 180 9/22/89 Langley, BC, CAN) (GP 42 G 16 A 19 Pts 35 29 PIMs)
Prince George Spruce Kings
3 Wes McLeod (D 6'02" 185 9/30/90 Kamloops, BC, CAN) (GP 34 G 9 A 26 Pts 35 52 PIMs)
5 Justin Fillion (D 5'11" 175 4/23/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 41 G 5 A 26 Pts 31 60 PIMs)
7 Jesse Scrimbit (D 6'01" 180 12/19/90 Sicamous, BC, CAN) (GP 36 G 0 A 4 Pts 4 27 PIMs)
8 Jonathan Gibson (D 6'01" 205 2/01/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 38 G 4 A 5 Pts 9 41 PIMs)
9 Nick DeSousa (F 6'00" 180 11/13/90 Fraser Lake, BC, CAN) (GP 37 G 18 A 7 Pts 25 20 PIMs)
10 Brad Bourke (D 6'01" 175 4/21/89 Onoway, AB, CAN) (GP 38 G 5 A 16 Pts 21 40 PIMs)
11 Kyle Manlow (F 5'10" 165 6/28/91 Murrieta, CA, USA) (GP 40 G 5 A 2 Pts 7 14 PIMs)
12 Marcus Watson (F 6'03" 198 1/17/89 San Jose, CA, USA) (GP 37 G 13 A 21 Pts 34 32 PIMs)
14 Lyndon Martell (F 6'01" 190 1/13/93 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 25 G 9 A 11 Pts 20 06 PIMs)
15 Luke Hannas (F 6'02" 185 9/09/91 Williams Lake, BC, CAN) (GP 35 G 0 A 3 Pts 3 88 PIMs)
16 Jeff Earnest (F 5'10" 175 2/08/91 Anchorage, AK, USA) (GP 33 G 8 A 8 Pts 16 48 PIMs)
17 Brooks Robinson (F 5'11" 180 8/18/89 Duncan, BC, CAN) (GP 41 G 16 A 39 Pts 55 20 PIMs)
19 Joe Morgan (F 5'08" 180 4/07/89 Kitimat, BC, CAN) (GP 32 G 8 A 22 Pts 30 20 PIMs)
22 Jeremy Wiebe (F 6'00" 180 7/20/91 Vernon, BC, CAN) (GP 35 G 1 A 1 Pts 2 83 PIMs)
23 RJay Berra (F 6'00" 180 7/26/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 41 G 8 A 10 Pts 18 13 PIMs)
24 Josh Pineiro (D 5'10" 211 8/25/89 Huntington Beach, CA, USA) (GP 35 G 7 A 17 Pts 24 34 PIMs)
25 Zac Rasmussen (F 5'09" 178 5/08/89 Kamloops, BC, CAN) (GP 37 G 13 A 20 Pts 33 81 PIMs)
26 Sam Muchalla (F 5'08" 150 8/14/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 39 G 22 A 30 Pts 52 42 PIMs)
30 Andrew Walsh (G 6'02" 185 12/15/90 Dawson Creek, BC, CAN) (GP 26 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 14 PIMs)
35 Kyle Nielsen (G 5'10" 170 7/21/90 New Westminster, BC, CAN) (GP 18 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 00 PIMs)