Thursday, September 30, 2010

Setting The Bar For Sam

In my quest to locate and keep tabs on the growing list of alumni, I came upon this particular blog about Sam Muchalla. It is quite complimentary and I must say well informed describing Sam as "slightly undersized" but having the "finesse ... to overcome this."

It also talks about his work ethic and dedication to his team and to winning, something that Spruce Kings fans don't need to be reminded of. Sam continues to stay in touch with the team and follows them both on and off the ice as I hope to do for his college hockey career. The bar has already been set high for last year's captain of the Spruce Kings. A self proclaimed unofficial blog of Northern Michigan University has Muchalla stepping in to the skates of last year's points leader.

Well here, you can read it for yourself ...

Sam Muchalla
Sam Muchalla will most likely be the bandage that will fill the gap left by 2009-10 CCHA points leader Mark Olver (19-30-49 in 40 games). Muchalla comes from the Prince George Spruce Kings of the BCHL, a Canadian Junior A team. Muchalla was able to avoid being considered ineligible for NCAA play by choosing a Junior A squad in lieu of the Semi-Professional Canadian Major Junior League, the CHL.

Muchalla is a better than a point per game contributor throughout his career (64-117-181 in 161 games) in what is possibly the highest talent league available for moving players into NCAA hockey. Muchalla has also shown a steady improvement, upgrading to a full point and a half-per-game player last season, boasting 29 goals and 58 assists in 58 games. He has limited playoff experience, totaling 9 games, but even still boasts 11 points, putting him at higher than a point per game in the post season.

At 5'8" 155 pounds, Muchalla is slightly undersized, but his finesse will be enough to overcome this against all but the best defensive teams. Look for the left-hander to be one of the best in the CCHA during his tenure at NMU. According to, Muchalla is known around the league for his work ethic and dedication to his team and winning.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Injury Update

I'm not a doctor or a member of the training staff so it is quite possible that I will get trumped on this, but let me just say that things are looking promising on the injury front heading into this weekend's three game set. Last weekend the Spruce Kings found themselves up and down on the rollercoaster; on the upside the team picked up their first win but on the downside they found another player being added to the infirmary.

In the preseason, the team lost the services of Trevor Esau before fans even had a chance to really get a good look at the young defenceman. Faiz Khan was another player that the Spruce Kings picked up in the off season, but was unable to be in the opening night lineup. Although Khan did suit up for a game against the Vees in Penticton, the twenty year old forward found that he wasn't 100 percent and required a little more time to fully mend.

In that same game against the Penticton Vees, Riley Spraggs was added to the injury list after a hit in the offensive zone. That list grew to four when Connor Tiechko was hit hard into the wall on a play that resulted in a double minor for hooking and boarding being assessed to the offending Vernon Vipers player.

With four players on the shelf for Saturday's rematch with the Penticton Vees, the affects of the short bench showed themselves as the game wore on. With less than three minutes remaining in that game, the Vees were able to turn a close one-goal game into a two-goal spread and eventually added two empty netters. Things got worse the next day when the Vipers bit back after their 3-1 loss to the Spruce Kings on Friday night.

With that weekend now behind them, the Spruce Kings have taken to the practice ice to prepare for a three game weekend with games against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Friday, the Surrey Eagles on Saturday and the Silverbacks again on Sunday. Two things jumped out at me when I took in one of those practices; there were no players sitting in the stands and there were no yellow jerseys on the ice. The yellow jersey is often symbolic of a player with an injury that is on the road to recovery but needs to take it easy and have teammates take it easy on them.

Trevor Esau (pictured above) was wearing a black jersey while Faiz Khan wore blue and Connor Teichko was in grey. The other injured player, Riley Spraggs is expected to return to Prince George for the weekend after another doctor's visit. The three players that were on the practicing with the team were going through the full drills and participating at a high level that has left me believing that we will be able to see all of them in action this weekend.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

From A-Z Covers Zach Davies

The 2008-09 Spruce Kings captain and four year alumni, Zach Davies was recently featured on Inside College Hockey's A-Z featuring highlighting players from throughout the NCAA. Davies is getting set to start his sophomore season with the Quinnipiac Bobcats men's ice hockey team. With his roots firmly planted in this area of the continent, Davies has found himself a new home on the eastern seaboard.

What follows are some excerpts from both the Quinnipiac Bobcats website and the original article from Inside College Hockey.

Davies completed his first year at Quinnipiac in 2009-10 with two goals and 12 assists, while being whistled for just seven penalties across 40 games played. Davies also played his way onto the Bobcats power play after establishing himself as one of the Bobcats top four defenseman. Davies scored his first points of his career against Robert Morris with a goal and two assists against the Colonials. Davies also scored against No.5 Cornell in a 3-2 win at Lynah Rink before tallying a career-best two assists against American International. In last season's ECAC Hockey Tournament, Davies had three assists in six postseason games.

By Joe Gladziszewski

Quinnipiac Bobcats, So. | D |
Smithers, British Columbia

Key Statistics: Davies appeared in all 40 of Quinnipiac’s game as a freshman blueliner and contributed two goals and 12 assists for 14 points. He was only whistled for seven minor penalties all season.

Davies had a very solid freshman campaign at Quinnipiac and was one of the Bobcats top-four defensemen throughout the season. He made a commitment from the beginning of the year to learn how to play well defensively, make good decisions and make good outlet passes that started the transition.

Davies excelled at both ends of the ice and avoided many of the stretches of inconsistency that usually plague newcomers to college hockey. With that performance came more responsibility; he played in all situations and even played on Quinnipiac's 5-on-3 power play unit late in the season. Even when he didn't have his best night, Davies still found ways to contribute to the team in positive ways.

Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold on Davies' future: "I think that eventually as he starts to blossom he'll contribute even more offensively as he gains confidence and maturity."

New Threads for a Pair of Alumni

I found this video highlighting "photo day" for the men's hockey program at St. Cloud State University. In the video you will find two players that suited up for the Prince George Spruce Kings not that long ago and are now enjoying the game of hockey at the collegiate level.

Wearing number 13 now for the St. Cloud State University Huskies, Jordy Chrisitan played for the Spruce Kings during the 2007-08 season where he was named the BCHL Interior Division's Rookie of the Year after scoring 39 goals and adding 45 assists. Wearing his familiar number 5, Nicholas Rioux was with the team during the 2006-07 season helping the Spruce Kings claim silver at the 2007 RBC Royal Bank Cup.

Entering his junior year (third season) with the Huskies, Christian has 79 regular season and playoff games under his belt at the NCAA level. In his sophomore season he was named to the 2010 All-WCHA Academic Team, was the recipient of a 2010 WCHA Scholar-Athlete and was named to the 2010 ESPN Academic All-District V University At-Large Second Team.

Nicholas Rioux is a senior this year playing in his last season of collegiate hockey. He was named to the WCHA All-Academic Team last year and in 2008-09 earned All-WCHA Academic honors.

Both players have represented themselves and the Spruce Kings well and have joined me on the occasional broadcast as intermission guests. It sure is a treat to be able to get a little peak at them now with their new team mates. You will see their names on the back of their jerseys, but can you pick them out when you see them face on?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

One for the Win Column

There are certainly easier ways of getting two points, but the Spruce Kings will take their win over the Vernon Vipers with a sense of relieve. The game started out pretty simple with both teams getting shots and some chances. The Spruce Kings took the game's first penalty allowing the Vipers to work for two minutes with the extra attacker that resulted in a few more shots but no goals.

The Spruce Kings on the other hand only needed one shot on their first powerplay try as Chris Bodo received the perfect pass from Jujhar Khaira and was able to bury at the midway mark of the first period. Shortly after that the fans in the building were left buzzing on a spectacular save made by Ryan Benitez who had to stare down a 3 man break-away.

The Spruce Kings got another powerplay and again they made short order of the advantage when Chris Bodo was able to flip in his own rebound over a down and out Vipers net minder. Jujhar Khaira and RJay Berra picked up the helpers on the game's second goal.

The first period ended close as far as shots go with the Vernon Vipers outshooting the Spruce Kings 9-7. In the second period the shots started to turn in favour of the home team as they found themselves up 11-10 on that stat while still leading 2-0.

At 6:08 of the second period, Connor Tiechko flew down the left side with speed and was hooked off his feet falling awkwardly into the end boards. The play drew a hooking and boarding call against the John Knisley giving the Spruce Kings a double minor to work with. After Tiechko was able to get up and dust himself off, the fans thought surely this was the time the Spruce Kings could really send a message.

It turns out that the game went the other direction, the powerplay team was unable to get setup and found themselves retrieving the puck from their own end a number of times. The double minor came to an end without a shot on goal and in fact it would be another 23 minutes before the Spruce Kings would get another shot on Blake Voth.

The Vipers opened the shooting range and fired everything they had at the Benitez who stood large between the pipes for Prince George. At the end of the second period the Vipers had built up a 22-11 shot lead with a total of 13 in the middle frame. The third period would be more of the same with the Vipers in the offensive zone looking for a way of getting on the board.

Credit to the entire Spruce Kings squad who were keeping the Vipers to the outside and tied up as much as possible and also blocking shots. There was definitely some concern when Jeff Earnest went down to block a shot and got it off the top of his foot. Earnest was unable to skate to the bench on his own but would not stay down as he crawled to the bench to get a replacement on the ice. Earnest missed two shifts before deciding to try out the foot and was able to continue on.

The Vipers relentless pressure finally paid off with a seeing eye point shot from the right side that sailed through a couple of bodies and the inside of the far side post. The goal was scored with just over seven minutes to go in the game giving the Vipers a ray of hope, but it didn't seem to impact the Spruce Kings. Two minutes later Justin Fillion added to his point production with a timely insurance marker off the Spruce Kings second shot of the period. Kyle Manlow picked up the assist.

Under five minutes to go in the game and the Vipers poured it on again to no avail; even after pulling the goalie with 1:25 remaining in the third period, they weren't able to get anymore. The Vipers outshot the Spruce Kings 23-2 in the final period, but in the end it was a pair of shots on the powerplay from Chris Bodo and a timely blast from Justin Fillion that provided the Spruce Kings with their first win of the season.

The Spruce Kings will have their hands full again tonight with the Penticton Vees in town. On Tuesday night in Penticton, the Spruce Kings battled back from an early 2-0 deficit to force overtime. A goal mouth scramble ended the comeback when a puck went up and over Kirk Thompson and landed in the blue paint for Logan Johnston to pot home the winner. Thompson was solid in goal making 29 saves in 61:33 of play.

Game time tonight is 7pm in the Prince George Coliseum with audio available online from the Spruce Kings website and a pay-per-view feed available from the BCHL website.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Moving On To Salmon Arm

To look at the score sheet and find an overtime loss does not sum up the game the Spruce Kings had against the Penticton Vees last night. *note* At the time this blog is being posted, I would like to add that the score sheet has a few errors with it that are in the process of being corrected.

Going into Penticton is the epitome of never taking your opponent lightly, if you can't get motivated for a game against the Vees in the South Okanagan, you should be checking your pulse. The building is one of the largest in the Interior Division, the history that the team has built over its many years of existence is impressive and year after year they are considered to be a team that can go the distance. Given all of that, you can only imagine what must have been going through the heads of some of the rookies and even the vets as they got set to meet the latest edition of the Vees.

Perhaps the most interesting comment leading up to the game came from the head coach and the general manager of the Penticton Vees. Fred Harbinson told me that his team has just as many rookies and players that have been recruited out of minor hockey and high school hockey programs. He reminded me that his players have to play inside that arena far more than any other players have to and that they have to be motivated to play or the opposition will be leaving with the points.

The Spruce Kings came out hungry and on the first shift were able to get a great scoring chance with the puck being frozen in the blue paint by the Vees netminder Billy Faust. After that opening shift, the Vees started to take over the play and were the recipient of a long point shot that was tipped in on its way to the net to open the scoring two and a half minutes into the contest.

Playing on his first shift of the regular season after returning from an injury, Faiz Khan got turned around and his stick came up resulting in a double minor for high sticking. Although Logan Johnston would receive a minor just five seconds later nullifying the first half of the double minor, the Vees would add a powerplay tally seconds after Johnston was released from his penalty box.

Down 2-0 on 11 shots not seven minutes into the game, the coaching staff made the never easy decision of pulling the starting goaltender in favour of eighteen year old rookie Kirk Thompson ... and did he ever look good. In the end he stopped 29 of 30 shots as the Spruce Kings were able to use him as a catalyst to get back to even and force overtime.

The first goal came off a faceoff win from Connor Tiechko back to Justin Fillion, the point man walked along the blue line and let a low hard shot go that was tipped by Kyle Manlow in front off the goal post. With the puck sitting between the post and the goalie, Faust swung around in a desperation move to clear the puck and ended up knocking it into his own net with Chris Bodo and Tiechko both reaching to poke the puck in themselves.

It would be the third period before the red light would be lit again and it was a result of the top line converting on a broken play. With the play moving out of the Vees end, Nicolas DeSousa was able to knock down the puck and put it into the left corner. Jujhar Khaira picked it up, drawing the pair of defenders to him as he moved to go behind the net. Khaira then spotted RJay Berra coming back into the zone and put the puck out into the left faceoff circle where Berra was able to swipe at it and beat Faust to tie the game with 7:30 remaining.

The two teams traded late powerplay chances but neither was able to capitalize with the extra man. The Vees powerplay extended for 42 seconds into the first overtime period which they used to get a couple of shots on Thompson. The defence for Prince George played a great game keeping the Vees buzzing on the outside and allowing Thompson to see the shots, make the saves and control the rebounds.

The highlight of the night came in double overtime when the teams were 3-on-3; the Spruce Kings were trying to setup in the Vees end to get a shot on goal but the puck squirted free giving Curtis Loik a breakaway from his own blue line. Thompson played it perfectly and stayed with the shooter making the save with the puck sitting under his left thigh on the blue line.

A few seconds later the game would come to a heartbreaking end for the Spruce Kings when the Vees sixteen year old defenceman Tyler Stecher came down the left side, used a spin-a-rama move to get past the Spruce Kings d-man. Stecher continued behind the net and went from a wrap around that Thompson got a pad on to make the stop, the puck went up and over the goaltender coming down in the crease for Logan Johnston to find and direct into the open net.

Thompson played 61:31 in total and with his 29 save performance was named the game's second star, although I gave him the first star honours for his 96.67 save percentage and 0.98 goals against average. Once the scoresheet and the stats are correct to show these numbers, Thompson will move up into the fourth spot among goaltenders in the BCHL.

Thompson's performance on Tuesday night will earn him the start tonight against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks as the Spruce Kings still look for their first regular season win. History has provided many memorable games and results for these two in the Sunwave Centre and tonight should be no exception as the two teams meet for the first time this year.

Following the game the Spruce Kings will return home in preparation for a three game weekend with games against the Vernon Vipers on Friday night, the Penticton Vees on Saturday night and the Vipers again for a matinee game Sunday at 3pm. Tonight's game will be available as an audio only webcast from the Spruce Kings UStream channel available here


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Roadie to Penticton and Salmon Arm

On Monday morning the Spruce Kings boarded the iron lung for a pair of games in the Okanagan against the Penticton Vees and Salmon Arm Silverbacks. After the customary stop for supper at the Bears Claw Lodge in Cache Creek, the team headed for their temporary home base in Vernon.

After the morning meal, the players all headed over to the home of the Vernon Vipers to watch their morning skate. While I was there with the players, the good doctor, Dr. Duncan Wray made his way over to where I was sitting to say hello and talk a little shop. Proving that the world is small and the hockey world is even smaller, Ryan Benitez talked to the Vipers owner about a couple of former snakes that he had played with even earlier in Denver.

On this day I also met the newest member of the Spruce Kings, Bennett Hambrook who was acquired the previous day from the Vernon Vipers. Hambrook is looking forward to suiting up with his new team and against a team he has already played against twice just days prior. In fact by the time the dust settles after this current five games in six days grueling schedule, Hambrook will have played have his games against the Penticton Vees.

The Vees are coming off a pair of losses to the Vernon Vipers on the weekend and will not be in a good mood when they host the Spruce Kings later tonight. The Vees are expected to be a powerhouse this season in the Interior Division and certainly don't want to see their record drop below .500 which is where they are now.

The Spruce Kings on the other hand feel that they have been in each of their first three games this season and have shown great offensive abilities, something that might be able to be put on display on the larger ice surface of the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Chris Bodo is one player that I can see having a lot of fun with the extra ice. Other players that stand a chance to shine include Nicolas DeSousa, Riley Spraggs, Jeff Earnest, Tyler Sybil, Connor Tiechko and Jujhar Khaira. All of these players have been showing they have speed and can wheel with the puck. All of them have had more chances than their points currently show.

One player who may have cracked open his good fortunes is that of the 16 year old rookie who was playing AAA hockey with the Cloverdale Colts last year. Jujhar Khaira has stepped into the BCHL and found a regular rotation on the top line of the Spruce Kings and not looked out of place while picking up his first two goals in the BCHL Saturday night against the Coquitlam Express.

For the likes of DeSousa, Earnest as well as RJay Berra, Justin Fillion and even Jeff Datoff, Kyle Manlow, Jeremy Wiebe and Luke Hannas, the goal tonight is to take away two points from the home of the Vees and start building on that success. A win tonight and the Spruce Kings will be one point out of the middle of the pack with a game in hand on every other team in the Division except for the Quesnel Millionaires.

The game tonight will be broadcast online only from the team's Ustream channel at and will be there again tomorrow night when the Spruce Kings travel into the Gorilla den for their first meeting with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Opening Night Overtime Loss

Sometimes things go well and sometimes they don't. The Spruce Kings had a little bit of both on their 2010-11 BCHL opening night. Dropping a 4-3 overtime decision to their rivals from down the road, the Quesnel Millionaires.

The night started off well enough with players and fans arriving early with an excited anticipation for the start of the season. The players were introduced one at a time to the applause of the fans in the building. A stirring rendition of the National Anthem was performed by Allison McNeill and then it was time for the drop of the puck.

In the early going of the game, the fans let the players know they appreciated the effort that was being shown getting into the action with a chorus of "Oooh's" and Ahhh's" with every scoring chance or big save. Five minutes in and the teams found themselves playing four on four when Justin Fillion intercepted a pass in his own end and started a rush up the ice. Spotting Nicolas DeSousa on his left side, Fillion was able to the pass onto the forward's stick who opened the scoring at 5:20 of the first period.

A few minutes later the Spruce Kings would find themselves with another man advantage and with full control of the puck in the offensive zone. With the top powerplay unit on the ice Chris Bodo worked the left side wall and was able to get the puck back to the right point for Fillion, down to the corner for DeSousa and then into the middle where RJay Berra fired a shot that trickled through the goaltender's pads to give the Spruce Kings a 2-0 lead.

The opening period ended with the Spruce Kings getting the job done at both ends of the ice, Ryan Benitez had made eight saves on the eight credited shots to the Quesnel Millionaires and the Spruce Kings had tallied twice on their eight shots on goal. The second period had more of the same for the Spruce Kings with the home team building up a 4-1 shot advantage in the first five minutes of the middle frame.

On one particular try for the visiting team, newly acquired defenceman Derek Henderson was able to get his stick on the puck and find DeSousa with a stretch pass into the neutral zone. DeSousa went down the right side looking to get his second of the game, but Charles Corsi would have something to say about that shot between the pipes for the Mills. Although the stop was made, the rebound came out the other side right to Berra who buried his second of the game to spot the Spruce Kings to a 3-0 lead.

With the Spruce Kings seemingly in control of their opening night game, things started to unravel with an innocent enough looking play. With a simple dump out of their own zone the Quesnel Millionaire started a line change, except for Clayton Chessa who tracked the puck as it rolled in on Fillion and then took a Millionaires bounce away from the twenty year old blueliner. The puck ended up on Chessa's stick who just flipped a shot on goal that went in over the shoulder and under the cross bar behind Benitez.

Five minutes later, the Mills were back looking for more and were able to capitalize on a scramble play in front of the Spruce Kings net with Derek Huisman getting one from a short side shot. The second period came to an end with the home side holding onto the one goal lead, but the Millionaires knew they were now right back in the game and had established a shots on goal lead of 18-17.

Five minutes into the third period Clayton Chessa ended up back on the doorstep of the Spruce Kings goal after the Mills broke out of their own zone on a three-on-two rush. It was Chessa that finished the play to tie the game up at three at 5:22 of the third period. The rest of the third period saw the goaltenders for both teams shine robbing sure goals to force overtime. In the extra frame, the Mills finished what they started in the second period and won the game 4-3 tarnishing the Spruce Kings home opener.

The Spruce Kings will play a couple of inter-divisional games this weekend with the Langley Chiefs paying a visit to the Castle on Friday night and the following night will see the transplanted Express rolling into town from their new home base in Coquitlam. Game time both nights is 7pm with doors opening at 6pm. Advance tickets, including the fifteen game punch cards, are available from the Spruce Kings office located in the Prince George Coliseum.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Season Starts Tonight

No more planning, no more preparing ... it all gets started tonight for the Prince George Spruce Kings as they open their 2010-11 BCHL season at home against the Quesnel Millionaires.

Lots has changed for the team who will be going with essentially an all new roster for the season. Looking at the numbers, that roster seems to be fairly well balanced with age and experience. There are 6 twenty year olds on the list along with 9 nineteen year olds, 5 eighteen year olds and 2 sixteen year olds ... there are no seventeen year old players this year.

As far as skill and experience go ... RJay Berra, Justin Fillion, Nicolas DeSousa, Jeff Earnest, Jeff Datoff, Kyle Manlow, Luke Hannas and Jeremy Wiebe represent the vets on the team. Chris Bodo and Ryan Benitez come in as rookies with scholarships already secured. A number of players have Junior A experience or better and all have shown an ability to get the job done this season.

That job starts tonight for these players and this team that is looking to literally take the "clean slate" that is provided with the start of a new season and paint a winning picture on it. The first night's opponent can't be taken lightly as the Quesnel Millionaires are looking to ride the momentum they generated in the previous post season to jump start them this year.

CLICK HERE to view the game insert with rosters etc. for tonight's game.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Another Tie Provides Lots of Excitment

It happened Friday afternoon and it happened again Saturday night ... the Spruce Kings skated away from their preseason exhibition game with a tie. On Friday it was a come from behind 2-2 tie against the Grande Prairie Storm and on Saturday night it was another third period comeback to finish regulation time with a 6-6 tie against the Dawson Creek Rage of the North American Hockey League.

The Spruce Kings opened the scoring with a heads up play from Jujhar Khaira who spotted Riley Spraggs all alone in front of the net at 5:23 of the opening period. That lead was short lived as the Dawson Creek Rage answered right back less than twenty seconds later on a Jason Wark shot at 5:42 of the first period.

In a season that will inevitably be filled with firsts for the Dawson Creek Rage, they established their first lead in a game when Evan Ripley ripped a seeing eye shot from the right point that went in over the glove of Cameron Large. With the hometown fans still cheering the Rage goal and the announcement not yet started over the PA system, Khaira intercepted an errant pass in the Dawson Creek zone and made no mistake snapping home the tying goal just eight seconds later.

The first period would come to an end with the teams tied 2-2, but not for a lack of trying on the part of the Rage who pressed hard in the Spruce Kings zone for a go ahead marker. The second period saw the Dawson Creek Rage pick up where they left off getting a few quality shots in on Large. Travis Irving of the Rage was called for boarding at 1:16 of the second period and that provided the opportunity that the Spruce Kings were looking for as three vets set up the go-ahead goal on the powerplay. Justin Fillion and RJay Berra got helpers on the Nicolas DeSousa goal scored at 1:50 of the second period.

That 3-2 Prince George lead lasted just over a minute as the Dawson Creek Rage tied the game when Blaine Bokenfohr walked into the top of the right side faceoff circle and let a howitzer go that went through Large and into the back of the net. From there the Rage took over the period and scored on back-to-back powerplay chances to stake a claim to a 5-3 lead after forty minutes. The powerplay markers were scored by Ryan Matthews and Carter Page at 7:25 and 12:31 respectfully.

Down by a pair to start the third period, the Spruce Kings started manufacturing chances but were coming up short against Edward Dyson who had taken over for Kris Drott midway through the second period for the Dawson Creek Rage. One for six on the powerplay at the midway mark of the third period and the Spruce Kings looked to be getting frustrated with their powerplay unit, that is until Jeff Earnest stepped on the ice.

With Brett Zarazun in the penalty box for interference after he held Kyle Manlow up on the right side wall, Earnest picked up the first of two on the night after he fired a shot to the top corner to cut the Rage lead in half at 9:46 of the third period. The Spruce Kings would go right back on the powerplay when Page was called for slashing right off the goal. With Earnest still fairly fresh, the sophomore vet committed to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for the 2011 season stayed on the ice. The decision would pay off as the Spruce Kings worked the puck around well looking for the shot ... the shot would come at 11:16 and again it would come off the stick of Jeff Earnest.

With their lead gone and finding themselves in a 5-5 tie, the Dawson Creek Rage went with an aggressive forecheck and relentless pursuit of the puck. The tenacious play of the Rage led to another powerplay chance for them when Jeff Datoff was called for a check to the head with 3:08 remaining in the game. Forty seconds into the powerplay the Spruce Kings would get a bad break when they were assessed a pair of minors and the Dawson Creek Rage only drew one. In a goal mouth scramble the Spruce Kings Jeff Datoff and Jeff Earnest were given roughing minors while Jason Wark was the only Rage player to receive a similar infraction. In fact Wark thought he was given a major for fighting and left for the dressing room expecting to get the automatic game misconduct that goes with fighting in the preseason.

The resulting two man advantage paid off for the Dawson Creek Rage when Sam Waterfield buried from the side of the net re-establishing a lead for the home team at 17:34 of the third period and still over a minute remaining in the penalty to Earnest. The Spruce Kings were able to kill off that second penalty and on the next stoppage of play called a timeout and brought Corey Koop to the bench for the extra attacker. The sixth skater for the Spruce Kings was Riley Spraggs and he would prove the coaching tandem of Tom Bohmer and Jason Garneau to be correct in their gamble. Picking up a Justin Fillion point shot rebound, Spraggs found the top shelf on the short side of the net with 5.5 seconds remaining to tie the game at six.

The two teams will meet one more time to finish off the preseason schedule on Tuesday September 7th at 7:00pm in the Prince George Coliseum. This game marks the only time this season that the Dawson Creek Rage will play in the Coliseum as they play out of the North American Hockey League. Tickets will be available on Tuesday during the game and also at the gate when the doors open at 6pm.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Spruce Kings 2-2 Tie With Grande Prairie Storm

The Prince George Spruce Kings and the Grande Prairie Storm opened up the second Faceoff Fever event in Dawson Creek with a matinee game played in the EnCana Events Centre. Limited to only regulation time, the two teams ended skating to a 2-2 tie.

The Grande Prairie Storm opened the scoring when a long point shot was tipped in front by Dan Correale at 3:41 of the first period. The Storm played a physical style of game that seemed to take the Spruce Kings off their game. In the second period, the Storm came up with a breakaway that sent Jordan Forfar down the right side. The twenty year old played it smart and waited for a team mate to jump up into the play. The team mate was Dan Correale who fired the one-timer behind Kirk Thompson to give the Alberta Junior Hockey League team a 2-0 lead at 7:39 of the second period.

The Spruce Kings came out strong in the third period and established a dominate position on the Grande Prairie Storm that led to a number of penalties being taken by the Storm. With Derek Kramer in the penalty box, Riley Spraggs moved in hard to net. Although the shot was stopped, the rebound was found and buried by Kyle Manlow putting the Spruce Kings on the board and cutting the lead in half with nine minutes remaining.

The very next penalty to the Grande Prairie Storm was also cashed in on with Ben Woodley in the box. RJay Berra was able to come in off the left side wall and through traffic snuck a shot under the pads of Chase Komistek. With the game now tied 2-2, it was time for the Spruce Kings goaltender to shine and Ryan Benitez who had came in mid way through the second period continued to frustrate the Storm and was perfect for his time in net.

The tie leaves the Spruce Kings with a 1-1-1 record heading into their fourth preseason game on Saturday night against the Dawson Creek Rage of the North American Hockey League. With 28 players travelling with the team this weekend, it is expected that the eight who sat out Friday will be inserted into the lineup allowing the management and hockey operations staff to take a look at all of the players that remain with the squad heading into the last week before the start of the regular season.

The final game of the preseason schedule will take place Tuesday night at 7pm in the Prince George Coliseum when the Spruce Kings host the Dawson Creek Rage. Tickets for Tuesday night’s exhibition game will be available from the Spruce Kings office starting at 10am on Tuesday.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Spruce Kings 1-1 in Preseason Play

After dropping a 5-2 decision on night number one in the Coliseum while working with a young rookie ladened squad, the Spruce Kings turned things around for the second game of the preseason. On Wednesday night in 100 Mile House and with a few veterans and twenty year old players inserted into the lineup the Spruce Kings came up with a 5-1 victory over their counterparts from Quesnel. The Spruce Kings were able to control the play and get quality shots in on the Quesnel Millionaires goaltender tandem of Ian Perrier and Mike Smith outshooting the money men 46-38.

Opening the scoring for the Spruce Kings was Connor Tiechko who was able to get the puck in the slot and bury while on the powerplay. The Spruce Kings would get a bounce in the second period when sixteen year old forward Jujhar Khaira (Ja-Jar Care-ah) from Surrey BC fired a shot on goal from just inside the blue line and getting it to deflect in past Mike Smith off a defender’s stick.

The third period saw the Spruce Kings score three goals in less than four minutes including a pair from RJay Berra and the top line with Chris Bodo setting up both and Nicolas DeSousa. The other Spruce Kings tally was a result of a head’s up play by Colton Precourt who spotted the puck in the blue paint just off the skate of the Millionaires goaltender. Precourt snagged the puck and was able to tuck it in behind the goaltender and the short side post while working from behind the net.

The Spruce Kings used their players on the bench in all areas including the penalty kill and powerplay ... on one such man advantage, the Mills were the ones that manufactured a scoring chance sending Chris Kerr and Tyler French in on a two-on-one. French was able to finish the play and slip a shot past Chris Solecki to ruin the bid of a shutout performance between Solecki and Cameron Large who played the first half of the game between the pipes.

Both teams will now head to Dawson Creek to play in Faceoff Fever II. The Spruce Kings will be listed as the home team on Friday afternoon when they play the Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League beginning at 3:00pm in the Encana Events Centre. Then on Saturday night they will be up against the Dawson Creek Rage of the North American Hockey League at 7:00pm also in the Encana Events Centre. On Tuesday September 7th, the Dawson Creek Rage will make a stop in the Castle as the Spruce Kings finish off their preseason with an exhibition game against the Rage.