Apparently when things go bad for the Spruce Kings, they go really bad. After a series of hard fought games that have resulted in disappointing losses, the team found out that things can be worse with a 6-0 shutout loss to the Burnaby Express. It was the team's first shutout loss of the season and happened after a string of one goal losses for the Spruce Kings dating back to before the Christmas break. For the most part, the Spruce Kings had their chances to bury a few and received goaltending through the first half that kept the team to within a goal of tieing up the game.
After allowing a bad goal against early in the first period, a result of bad communication in the defensive zone, the team looked like they were right in this one. A number of players had chances including Kyle Manlow, RJay Berra, Zac Rasmussen, Joe Morgan and Lyndon Martell. Andrew Walsh made some unbelievable saves to keep the game to within a goal, including a few saves from point blank off some Express snipers. Both Brad Reid and Simon Denis were robbed in close as was James Bettauer, Zac Ashdown and Garrick Perry.
At the other end, Nick Enegren was not really tested in the first period and only had to make eight saves to keep the Spruce Kings off the board through the opening twenty minutes. The second period was a different story as the Spruce Kings came in waves but could not get anything to go for them. Andrew Walsh had to be sharp when called upon early in the second as the Express themselves got a number of scoring chances but Walsh was able to turn those aside.
The Express built up a 3-0 lead before the end of the second on a pair of odd man rushes converting on both of them. The first was a give-and-go two-on-one finished off by garrick Perry, giving the Express a 2-0 lead and some breathing room at 13:26 of the second. The Express followed that one up with a late period goal on a play that started with a slew-foot on Lyndon Martell resulting in a turnover in the Burnaby end that was quickly fed up the ice.
Malcolm McKinney found himself on a rush with Perry and the two-on-one turned in to a three-on-two with Simon Denis in a few strides behind the pair. Perry dropped the puck to Denis and kept going towards the net and actually crashed into Walsh as the shot from Denis was enroute to the net. Walsh, Perry and the puck all ended up in the back of the net and the referee called it a good goal giving the Express a 3-0 lead with a 1:06 remaining in the second period. That goal was the "Crowning Moment" of the game as the teams went to the dressing rooms.
In the third period, the Spruce Kings tried to get back into the game and had a few more chances including a cross bar and a couple of odd man rushes themselves. Josh Pineiro found himself up on the rush with Zac Rasmussen to his left, Pineiro faked a pass to Rasmussen and then took the shot but Enegren hadn't bit on the fake and the shot hit him in the logo. Joe Morgan rang one off the cross bar and Kyle Manlow, who made a nice backhand forehand move, had the goaltender beat but was all tied up and never got the shot away cleanly and never drew a penalty either.
At 5:56 of the third period, Andrew Walsh was chased from the net after Brodie Jamieson was able to come around the net and score only his second of the season on a wrap-around. Steve Papciak didn't fare much better giving up two goals on eleven shots in ten minutes, the first of which was a rebound that caught the goaltender out of position and the other just a lucky bounce for Denis. While on the powerplay, the Express forward took a shot towards the net from deep inside the faceoff circle, Pineiro blocked the shot but the rebound went right back to Denis. Before Papciak could get reset in the net and tight to the shortside post, Denis had the puck into the top shelf and his second on the night.
Walsh finished out the game after that goal and the Spruce Kings tried to solve Enegren for the remaining minutes of the game. Although the Spruce Kings had great pressure through big portions of the game; after the outcome wasn't in doubt, the best chance to ruin the shutout bid for the Express came from a head's up play by Lyndon Martell. The youngster that has been impressing since joining the Spruce Kings in late October, found himself behind the net and spotted Luke Hannas all alone in front of the net. Enegren had gone to his right and Hannas was parked on the left, Martell gave the perfect pass to Hannas who looked at the opening and watched it disappear as he shot the puck. Enegren made his 26th save of the game and for the remaining moments of the game the Express players played keep-away, handing the Spruce Kings their first shutout loss of the season.
Still searching for their first points of this Coastal Conference road trip, the Spruce Kings won't have it any easier tonight as they take on the Langley Chiefs in the new Langley Events Centre. The Chiefs are riding a nine game winning streak including a 3-2 win over the Surrey Eagles last night that moves the Chiefs back to within one point of third place and three points of second place in the Coastal Conference. All nine wins have come with Mark Friesen in net for the Chiefs. Friessen is expected to get his tenth consecutive start tonight as Langley goes looking for their tenth consecutive win as well.
Friessen is one player that the Spruce Kings will have to solve as he comes in to the game with a record of 9 wins, 2 losses, a goals against average of 2.88 and a 90.91 save percentage. Other players to watch from the Langley roster include two time BCHL Player of the Week, Colten Beck who is tied in fifth place for the most points in the league at 65. In the Chiefs current nine game win streak, Beck has 12 goals and 11 assists including a hat trick and three two goal games. Next up on the Chiefs leader board is Brandon Thompson who has collected 12 helpers and chipped in with four goals in the past nine games.
As a team, the Langley Chiefs share the Coastal Conference lead for average goals scored with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at 3.90, their goals against average is 3.40. Their 9-1 record in the last ten games has improved both their home record (13-9-1-0) and road record (11-7-0-2) that were both hovering around the .500 mark before December 11 ... their last loss that came against the Powell River Kings.
For the Spruce Kings, there is still a believe that they are right in the thick of things and a few bounces their way will go a long way to getting them right back in to the playoff race. Currently the Spruce Kings sit three points out of the last playoff spot and have played one more game then the Trail Smoke Eaters who sit in seventh place in the Interior Conference. The players are also aware that they are only three games back of both the Merritt Centennials and the Quesnel Millionaires and have a home-and-home with the Mills next weekend. It makes for an interesting few games over the next few days and weeks.
Game time tonight from the Langley Events Centre is 7:00pm with a live broadcast available from 93.1 CFIS-FM and also online from the Spruce Kings website (click on the CFIS-FM Listen Live link). Pregame show with player and coaches interviews can be heard beginning at 6:40pm. Following the game the Spruce Kings will head home and are expected to arrive in Prince George around 7:00am at the Coliseum. Their next game will be in Quesnel against the Millionaires on Friday January 15 and on Saturday January 16, the Spruce Kings will host the Millionaires in the final game of the CNC Challenge Cup at 7:00pm.
1 Mark Friesen (G 6'00" 185 3/29/89 Calgary, AB, CAN) (GP 12 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 00 PIMs)
3 Tyler Miller (D 6'03" 210 1/01/91 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 27 G 0 A 4 Pts 4 55 PIMs)
4 Brad Bakken (D 6'03" 197 2/14/89 Langley, BC, CAN) (GP 40 G 2 A 7 Pts 9 47 PIMs)
5 Dennis Robertson (D 6'00" 195 5/24/91 Fort St. John, BC, CAN) (GP 36 G 7 A 17 Pts 24 65 PIMs)
7 Matt Cronin (D 6'02" 185 5/21/92 Langley, BC, CAN) (GP 41 G 3 A 2 Pts 5 80 PIMs)
8 Tim Daly (D 5'11" 165 2/01/92 Maple Ridge, BC, CAN) (GP 42 G 9 A 22 Pts 31 61 PIMs)
10 Brad Goss (F 6'01" 175 7/19/89 Smithers, BC, CAN) (GP 38 G 10 A 13 Pts 23 44 PIMs)
11 Mitch Pacey (F 6'03" 195 11/10/91 Richmond, BC, CAN) (GP 30 G 3 A 2 Pts 5 89 PIMs)
12 Mac Roy (F 5'11" 175 4/20/89 Chilliwack, BC, CAN) (GP 43 G 19 A 22 Pts 41 75 PIMs)
16 Kody Dhaliwal (F 5'11" 175 4/24/91 Surrey, BC, CAN) (GP 36 G 2 A 2 Pts 4 16 PIMs)
18 Trevor Gerling (F 5'11" 180 6/30/90 Seattle, WA, USA) (GP 43 G 10 A 24 Pts 34 46 PIMs)
19 Colton Beck (F 5'10" 175 6/10/90 Langley, BC, CAN) (GP 43 G 31 A 34 Pts 65 34 PIMs)
20 Jordan Sims (F 5'11" 190 12/28/89 Fort Wayne, SK, CAN) (GP 41 G 8 A 10 Pts 18 35 PIMs)
21 Brad McBride (F 6'00" 193 1/08/91 Denver, CO, USA) (GP 24 G 2 A 7 Pts 9 40 PIMs)
22 Kevin Tuohy (D 5'07" 160 6/04/91 Salisbury Mills, ON, CAN) (GP 39 G 2 A 14 Pts 16 13 PIMs)
23 Josh Myers (F 5'11" 180 9/26/90 Colorado Springs, CO, USA) (GP 33 G 17 A 13 Pts 30 54 PIMs)
24 Colten Hayes (D 6'02" 190 1/31/90 Maple Ridge, BC, CAN) (GP 28 G 4 A 13 Pts 17 41 PIMs)
27 Ryan Hankin (F 6'00" 187 4/27/91 Surrey, BC, CAN) (GP 10 G 1 A 2 Pts 3 04 PIMs)
28 Brandon Thompson (F 5'11" 165 11/10/90 North Vancouver, BC, CAN) (GP 40 G 13 A 30 Pts 43 46 PIMs)
33 Wyatt Galley (G 6'00" 170 12/17/91 Boston, MA, USA) (GP 0 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 00 PIMs)
Prince George Spruce Kings
1 Steve Papciak (G 5'11" 185 4/26/90 Des Plaines, IL, USA) (GP 9 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 00 PIMs)
3 Wes McLeod (D 6'02" 185 9/30/90 Kamloops, BC, CAN) (GP 36 G 9 A 27 Pts 36 63 PIMs)
5 Justin Fillion (D 5'11" 175 4/23/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 43 G 5 A 27 Pts 32 60 PIMs)
7 Jesse Scrimbit (D 6'01" 180 12/19/90 Sicamous, BC, CAN) (GP 38 G 0 A 4 Pts 4 27 PIMs)
9 Nick DeSousa (F 6'00" 180 11/13/90 Fraser Lake, BC, CAN) (GP 39 G 19 A 7 Pts 26 22 PIMs)
10 Brad Bourke (D 6'01" 175 4/21/89 Onoway, AB, CAN) (GP 40 G 5 A 17 Pts 22 40 PIMs)
11 Kyle Manlow (F 5'10" 165 6/28/91 Murrieta, CA, USA) (GP 42 G 5 A 2 Pts 7 14 PIMs)
12 Marcus Watson (F 6'03" 198 1/17/89 San Jose, CA, USA) (GP 39 G 13 A 22 Pts 35 32 PIMs)
14 Lyndon Martell (F 6'01" 190 1/13/93 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 27 G 9 A 12 Pts 21 08 PIMs)
15 Luke Hannas (F 6'02" 185 9/09/91 Williams Lake, BC, CAN) (GP 37 G 0 A 3 Pts 3 88 PIMs)
16 Jeff Earnest (F 5'10" 175 2/08/91 Anchorage, AK, USA) (GP 35 G 8 A 8 Pts 16 48 PIMs)
17 Brooks Robinson (F 5'11" 180 8/18/89 Duncan, BC, CAN) (GP 43 G 18 A 40 Pts 58 20 PIMs)
20 Jeff Datoff (D 5'10" 160 5/26/92 Nanaimo, BC, CAN) (GP 28 G 0 A 1 Pts 1 07 PIMs)
21 Stewart Lambert (F 6'00" 175 4/05/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 22 G 1 A 1 Pts 2 04 PIMs)
22 Jeremy Wiebe (F 6'00" 180 7/20/91 Vernon, BC, CAN) (GP 37 G 1 A 1 Pts 2 85 PIMs)
23 RJay Berra (F 6'00" 180 7/26/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 43 G 8 A 10 Pts 18 13 PIMs)
24 Josh Pineiro (D 5'10" 211 8/25/89 Huntington Beach, CA, USA) (GP 37 G 7 A 19 Pts 26 34 PIMs)
25 Zac Rasmussen (F 5'09" 178 5/08/89 Kamloops, BC, CAN) (GP 39 G 13 A 20 Pts 33 81 PIMs)
26 Sam Muchalla (F 5'08" 150 8/14/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 41 G 23 A 30 Pts 53 44 PIMs)
30 Andrew Walsh (G 6'02" 185 12/15/90 Dawson Creek, BC, CAN) (GP 28 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 16 PIMs)