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 http://ustream.tv/channel/spruce-kings 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.
PENTICTON VEES ROSTER. SPRUCE KINGS ROSTER.