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.