The Spruce Kings will return home to defend their Castle against the Powell River Kings. The visitors are on to their second stop of a five game road trip that has seen them bust into the Vault where they took two points away from the Quesnel Millionaires. The Coastal Conference Kings will also have stops in Merritt and Salmon Arm this weekend before closing out their road trip in Coquitlam.
The Spruce Kings have this one game on home ice before hitting the road for another three in three days including a double header with the Trail Smoke Eaters and a Sunday afternoon affair in Vernon against the Vipers.
The Spruce Kings will have two new players in the lineup for tonight with Trent Murdoch and Zac Ashdown donning the Crown after being acquired in separate deals earlier in the week. Both players have been skating with their new team mates and will be looking to add their contributions to the team tonight. Murdoch will be wearing jersey number 15 and Ashdown will be wearing jersey number 25.
Murdoch is no stranger to life in the Interior Division having played last season with the Williams Lake Timberwolves where he finished second in team scoring. Murdoch found himself in Alberni Valley playing for the Bulldogs for the start of this season. Both players have some familiarity with their opponents tonight with Zac Ashdown maybe having a bit more. Ashdown played a full season with the Nanaimo Clippers before ending up with the Burnaby Express for last season and the start of this season with the team in Coquitlam.
The addition of the two players will make for a few new line combinations. To start the game Murdoch will be playing on the left wing with Nic DeSousa (centre) and RJay Berra (right). Ashdown will also start on the left side with Connor Tiechko (centre) and Riley Spraggs (right). The other expected line combinations will see Faiz Khan (left), Jujhar Khaira (centre) and Chris Bodo (right) along with Brendon Fornwald (left), Stephen Ryan (centre) and Kyle Manlow (right). Justin Fillion, Trevor Esau, Jeremy Wiebe, Derek Henderson, Isaac Davies and Jeff Datoff will take care of things from the blue line.
Another new name to the Spruce Kings roster is a familiar face to the team even if it is hid behind a mask during the game. Alex Wright is expected to get his first start on home ice this season as he makes his return to the Spruce Kings after spending last season with the Prince George Cougars. As a twenty year old this year, Alex says he is looking to make this his best season and be a leader for the team both on and off the ice.
Alex has already posted some respectable career numbers from his earlier tenure with the team. A save percentage of 90.4 is fifth best and a 2.80 goals against average is third best among goaltenders that have played a minimum of 1500 minutes for the team. As for those minutes, Wright could find himself in the top five of that stat too having already taken over seventh spot after playing the full sixty minutes in Quesnel on Saturday night.
The Spruce Kings are looking for the new players to add that missing ingredient and provide the boost that will get the team out of its current pothole. The team has played well enough to have a better record than it does especially against those teams that have found early season success. That trend will have to continue tonight against a team that is has been putting up points in three out of every four games they play.
The Powell River Kings come into the Castle with a record of 10 wins, 3 losses, 1 tie and 1 overtime loss good enough for 22 points in 15 games. Leading the way are a pair of college committed players in Chad Niddery (8g 17a) and Matt Garbowsky (8g 12a). Niddery just committed this week to Ohio State while Garbowsky is set to attend RIT next season.
One player from the Powell River Kings that is sure to have his own cheering section tonight is Michael Garteig who hails from Prince George. Of the 14 games Garteig has played in, 9 have been wins and another was a tie. Garteig has posted 3 shutouts this season and has a 1.68 goals against average and a 92.83 save percentage.