Friday, January 29, 2010

Game 50 - at Cowichan Valley Capitals

Pregame ...

After a day off on the Island, the Prince George Spruce Kings are ready to get back down to business with their 50th game of the season against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. The Spruce Kings started their four game Vancouver Island road trip off on the right foot but stumbled near the end of turn one when they suffered an overtime loss to the Nanaimo Clippers. Prince George was doing everything right with Sam Muchalla setting up all three goals and helping the Spruce Kings establish a 3-1 lead with less than four minutes remaining in the game.

Perhaps the excitement of picking up their first ever victory in the Frank Crane Arena or the long trip to Nanaimo caught up with them, but a pinball shot followed by a seeing eye shot less than two minutes later turned that lead into a tie. In overtime Brad Bourke, Nick DeSousa, Sam Muchalla and Justin Fillion all had chances but it would be the Nanaimo Clippers on a two-on-one rush in double overtime that would end the game. The win was the Clippers first in 2010 and ended an eleven game drought for the Coastal Conference team that has arguably struggled this season.

The Spruce Kings had lots going for them including a glorious scoring opportunity on the very first shift and shot on goal. Sam Muchalla found himself deep in the left corner of the offensive zone where he spotted Brad Bourke sneaking in through the middle. With a perfect saucer pass to the defencman that has been lighting it up for Prince George since the trade deadline, Bourke fired the one-timer that hit a surprised Rhys Hadfield square in the chest. The Nanaimo Clippers were the first on the board scoring a powerplay goal late in the first period to give themselves a 1-0 lead after the first period.

In the second period the Spruce Kings came out hard and were rewarded on a bit of a line change miscue by the Clippers that left Sam Muchalla all alone on the far side. Muchalla was able to draw the lone defender towards him which then opened up Joe Morgan on the other side. The Spruce Kings leading goal scorer and points leader fed another perfect pass to his team mate and Morgan was able to tap home his 11th of the season and even up the game at one. A few minutes later the spruce Kings were given a power play opportunity and they didn't waste much time taking the lead. Playing on the points, Justin Fillion and Brad Bourke played the puck between them before Bourke got the puck down to Muchalla in the left side faceoff circle. With patience and poise, Muchalla waited for Morgan to roll in towards the net before dishing off the puck for Morgan to tap in his second of the game.

The second period would end 2-1 in favour of Prince George and they seemed to be playing with a lot of confidence that spilled over into the third period. With less than six minutes showing on the score clock, Jeff Datoff was able to intercept a pass in the defensive zone and get it to Muchalla at the blue line. Muchalla cut through centre ice and, upon reaching the blue line, fed the puck into the slot behind both defencemen where a streaking Nick DeSousa picked it up and was able to undress the Clippers goaltender before sliding the puck under the arm of Hadfield. DeSousa's 21st of the season was another highlight reel goal for the second year veteran and gave the Spruce Kings a two goal lead ... a lead that proved to be not enough.

With a single point in their back pocket, the Spruce Kings left the arena trying to sort out what went wrong and what they could do next to get back into that playoff hunt. The last playoff spot has been so close but so far away for over a month now, but the players have not given up and were given a breathe of life last night with the Trail Smoke Eaters loss to the Langley Chiefs. Although still very much in the hunt for a playoff spot mathematically, the Spruce Kings have to rely on other teams to help them out but they must also count on themselves to find victories this weekend.

Next up is the Cowichan Valley Capitals and a team that is holding onto its playoff life sitting in seventh place in the Coastal Conference. The Capitals defeated the Clippers on Tuesday night and had two days off to prepare for the Spruce Kings, which would have given them a chance to scout their opponents on Wednesday night. The two teams met in December back in the Castle in a game that saw the Spruce Kings holding off the Capitals by a 2-1 margin, but ultimately lost the game 3-2 as a result of two quick goals late in the third period.

The Spruce Kings have a lot more confidence and ability to open up a game and will be looking to get rolling early against the Capitals. As mentioned, Sam Muchalla picked up three assists on Wednesday night and has climbed into seventh spot among the league's scoring leaders. Joe Morgan scored a pair against the Clippers and now has a dozen goals on the season. Nick DeSousa has been scoring highlight reel goals all season and picked up his 21st of the season which is three times his rookie season. Brad Bourke, Justin Fillion and Jeff Datoff have improved on their point a game streaks picking up an assist each.

The Cowichan Valley Capitals offensive strengths come from a pair of players with Mike Hammond (17-32) leading the way with 49 points followed by Nick Anderson (23-23) at 46 points. After that the numbers start dropping off with only two other players having better than 20 points, Jackson Garrett (17-20) has 37 and Shayne Taker (6-22) has 28. The Capitals have three players that Spruce Kings fans should be somewhat familiar with as a result of transactions with Interior Conference teams. Justin Sotkowy was picked up from the Quesnel Millionaires, Nick Amies from the Vernon Vipers and Colten Derickson from the Spruce Kings.

As a defenceman, Sotkowy has played 8 games with Cowichan Valley scoring a goal and adding an assist. Amies, another defencman has played in 21 games with the Capitals and has a record of one goal and five assists. Derickson has found his game on the Island with four goals and four assists in eleven games. As a team, the Cowichan valley Capitals have a perfect .500 record through ten games played in January (4-4-0-2). The Spruce Kings record hasn't fared as well but has been improving and is now at 2-7-0-1. In the goals for and against category, the Spruce Kings have a slight edging averaging 3.50 goals a game compared to 2.80 for the Capitals. The two are much closer with the Capitals at 4.10 goals against and the spruce Kings allowing an average of 4.50 goals a game.

If special teams come into play in the game tonight, the Spruce Kings are ranked ninth on the road while the Capitals sit last in the league with the extra man. However, the Capitals penalty kill is better ranked 9th at home compared to the Spruce Kings 11th place ranking on the road. In Wednesday's game, the Spruce Kings and the Nanaimo Clippers were both 1 for 2 with the man advantage whereas the capitals were 1 for 4 with the man advantage and gave up three power play goals on seven opportunities in their game the previous night against the Clippers.

Game time tonight is 7:30 with a pregame show at 7:10pm starting off the live broadcast from the Island Savings Centre in Duncan. Ron Gallo will have the call of the game on 93.1 CFIS-FM and also online from the Spruce Kings website and the BCHL Fanzone. Questions and comments can be sent to Ron Gallo by clicking on the "comments" link below. The Spruce Kings also have games against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (Saturday at 7:00pm) and the Victoria Grizzlies (Sunday at 4:30pm) before heading home from their Vancouver Island roadtrip.

Rosters ...

Cowichan Valley Capitals

3 Brett Apted (D 6'00" 190 10/27/90 St. Louis, MO, USA) (GP 33 G 1 A 6 Pts 7 43 PIMs)
5 Nicholas Wong (D 6'00" 198 12/08/91 Burnaby, BC, CAN) (GP 50 G 2 A 15 Pts 17 24 PIMs)
6 Justin Sotkowy (D 5'11" 175 8/30/90 Victoria, BC, CAN) (GP 16 G 1 A 1 Pts 2 06 PIMs)
7 Shayne Taker (D 6'03" 190 2/12/90 Surrey, BC, CAN) (GP 49 G 6 A 22 Pts 28 36 PIMs)
8 Jackson Garrett (F 6'03" 185 7/14/91 Comox, BC, CAN) (GP 40 G 17 A 20 Pts 37 66 PIMs)
9 Alex Halloran (D 5'09" 180 9/10/90 Salt Lake City, UT, USA) (GP 48 G 3 A 12 Pts 15 58 PIMs)
11 Nick Anderson (F 6'01" 190 10/29/89 Port Coquitlam, BC, CAN) (GP 50 G 23 A 23 Pts 46 55 PIMs)
13 Nick Amies (D 6'02" 185 7/25/92 Enderby, BC, CAN) (GP 48 G 3 A 8 Pts 11 26 PIMs)
14 Chase Kaiser (F 5'09" 170 5/18/92 Duncan, BC, CAN) (GP 49 G 6 A 3 Pts 9 23 PIMs)
16 Rajan Sidhu (D 6'03" 190 3/29/91 Surrey, BC, CAN) (GP 35 G 3 A 11 Pts 14 21 PIMs)
17 Taylor Paziuk (F 6'00" 172 7/18/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 45 G 8 A 9 Pts 17 56 PIMs)
18 Colten Derickson (F 6'01" 200 11/15/89 Kelowna, BC, CAN) (GP 20 G 4 A 5 Pts 9 22 PIMs)
19 Shawn Mueller (F 6'02" 185 8/20/92 Kitimat, BC, CAN) (GP 46 G 4 A 2 Pts 6 16 PIMs)
20 Joey Massingham (F 5'08" 160 5/21/89 Duncan, BC, CAN) (GP 50 G 5 A 7 Pts 12 58 PIMs)
21 Joel Kern (F 6'01" 180 4/01/91 New Orleans, NO, USA) (GP 48 G 1 A 15 Pts 16 81 PIMs)
24 Chris Daniels (F 6'00" 180 5/06/91 Winnipeg, MB, CAN) (GP 11 G 1 A 4 Pts 5 08 PIMs)
25 Mike Hammond (F 5'10" 170 2/21/90 Victoria, BC, CAN) (GP 37 G 17 A 32 Pts 49 16 PIMs)
26 Mikael Jung (F 5'10" 175 1/01/92 Nanaimo, BC, CAN) (GP 43 G 7 A 3 Pts 10 12 PIMs)
27 Brendon MacDonald (F 5'11" 180 6/23/91 Calgary, AB, CAN) (GP 48 G 2 A 4 Pts 6 111 PIMs)
31 Laurent Brossoit (G 6'02" 189 3/23/93 Surrey, BC, CAN) (GP 14 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 02 PIMs)
33 Alexandre Peck (G 6'04" 185 10/28/90 Kirkland, PQ, CAN) (GP 35 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 02 PIMs)
91 Ryan Green (F 6'03" 210 9/26/90 Essex, ON, CAN) (GP 37 G 9 A 10 Pts 19 84 PIMs)

Prince George Spruce Kings

4 Reid Blinkhorn (D 5'11" 170 12/23/91 Winfield, BC, CAN) (GP 3 G 1 A 0 Pts 1 02 PIMs)
5 Justin Fillion (D 5'11" 175 4/23/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 49 G 6 A 33 Pts 39 68 PIMs)
7 Jesse Scrimbit (D 6'01" 180 12/19/90 Sicamous, BC, CAN) (GP 44 G 0 A 5 Pts 5 33 PIMs)
8 Jonathan Gibson (D 6'01" 205 2/01/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 45 G 5 A 5 Pts 10 45 PIMs)
9 Nick DeSousa (F 6'00" 180 11/13/90 Fraser Lake, BC, CAN) (GP 45 G 21 A 14 Pts 35 27 PIMs)
10 Brad Bourke (D 6'01" 175 4/21/89 Onoway, AB, CAN) (GP 45 G 7 A 23 Pts 30 49 PIMs)
11 Kyle Manlow (F 5'10" 165 6/28/91 Murrieta, CA, USA) (GP 47 G 5 A 3 Pts 8 21 PIMs)
14 Lyndon Martell (F 6'01" 190 1/13/93 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 33 G 12 A 13 Pts 25 10 PIMs)
15 Luke Hannas (F 6'02" 185 9/09/91 Williams Lake, BC, CAN) (GP 43 G 2 A 6 Pts 8 105 PIMs)
16 Jeff Earnest (F 5'10" 175 2/08/91 Anchorage, AK, USA) (GP 41 G 9 A 11 Pts 20 58 PIMs)
18 Riley Spraggs (F 5'09" 175 11/23/91 Coldstream, BC, CAN) (GP 1 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 00 PIMs)
19 Joe Morgan (F 5'08" 180 4/07/89 Kitimat, BC, CAN) (GP 37 G 12 A 22 Pts 34 24 PIMs)
20 Jeff Datoff (D 5'10" 160 5/26/92 Nanaimo, BC, CAN) (GP 34 G 0 A 4 Pts 4 13 PIMs)
21 Stewart Lambert (F 6'00" 175 4/05/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 27 G 2 A 1 Pts 3 09 PIMs)
22 Jeremy Wiebe (F 6'00" 180 7/20/91 Vernon, BC, CAN) (GP 42 G 1 A 1 Pts 2 94 PIMs)
23 RJay Berra (F 6'00" 180 7/26/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 49 G 11 A 13 Pts 24 13 PIMs)
24 Jordan Bledsoe (F 5'09" 165 11/20/91 Costa Mesa, CA, USA) (GP 0 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 00 PIMs)
25 Zac Rasmussen (F 5'09" 178 5/08/89 Kamloops, BC, CAN) (GP 45 G 16 A 23 Pts 39 94 PIMs)
26 Sam Muchalla (F 5'08" 150 8/14/90 Prince George, BC, CAN) (GP 47 G 25 A 41 Pts 66 56 PIMs)
30 Andrew Walsh (G 6'02" 185 12/15/90 Dawson Creek, BC, CAN) (GP 32 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 24 PIMs)
35 Kyle Nielsen (G 5'10" 170 7/21/90 New Westminster, BC, CAN) (GP 20 G 0 A 0 Pts 0 00 PIMs)

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