The Spruce Kings will wrap up their Vancouver Island roadtrip today with a stop in the Bear Mountain Arena where they will face off against the Victoria Grizzlies. The Spruce Kings have had their fair share of troubles picking up points on this roadtrip and will be hoping to build on a strong third period performance in last night's game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
The Spruce Kings went into the dog pound and found themselves down 1-0 just 1:07 into the first period, but this time things were a little different as they battled back and evened the score. With the Bulldogs trying to get out of their own zone, Faiz Khan stepped up and intercepted the puck and get it over to Chris Bodo. Using his trademark speed and a slick move, Bodo was able to get the puck onto his forehand and wristed in his sixth goal of the season to tie the game at one.
The Bulldogs would restore their one goal lead on a powerplay goal that came from behind the net and saw Trent Murdoch fake right and then come back left to wrap the puck around the short side post. The Bulldogs would add another powerplay goal in the second period to go up 3-1 after forty minutes of play.
In the third the Spruce Kings would get a powerplay tally of their own, RJay Berra's ninth goal of the season was set up by Nic DeSousa and brought the team to within one goal. The Bulldogs Trent Murdoch re-established a two goal lead with his second of the game and then Casey Bailey added an additional insurance marker which would stand up as the game winner despite a valiant effort by the Spruce Kings.
With time running out in the third period and a faceoff in the neutral zone, the Spruce Kings won the draw and went in on the attack only to be interrupted by a large salmon that was thrown on the ice stopping play. After cleaning up the forty pound pride of Port Alberni, the Spruce Kings won the subsequent faceoff inside the Bulldogs zone. From behind the net, Berra passed the puck to DeSousa in the left faceoff circle who spun away from a check and in one motion snapped on into the far side top shelf giving the Spruce Kings some more life.
Unfortunately down by two with less than two minutes remaining, the Spruce Kings ended up with a penalty but not without hope. Again with a faceoff win in the Bulldogs zone, Berra found DeSousa in front of the net off the draw where DeSousa toe dragged around the goaltender and deposited his second of the game to get the game to within one. Still shorthanded, the Spruce Kings pulled Ryan Benitez to put five skaters on the ice. With another faceoff win, the Spruce Kings advanced into Bulldogs zone but could not get the equalizer before the final horn sounded.
Still the team will need to take that new found momentum from winning the third period with them into their final game against the Victoria Grizzlies. The Grizzlies were one of two BCHL teams that sat idol last night watching the proceedings after defeating the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 4-2 on Friday night. The Bears are sitting with a .500 record having won four, lost four and an overtime loss in the nine games they have played so far this season. They are 3-3 in six games played in the Bear Mountain Arena.
Led by Cornell University bound Joel Lowry up front and Sean Robertson on the back end, both nineteen year olds have nine points to start the season. Robertson's contribution comes from setting up his teammates having collected eight assists nine games while Lowry is a little more balanced with four goals and five helpers in eight games. Another Cornell committed player, Madison Dias has found the back of the net five times for the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies have been relying on Matt Ginn who played in three games at the 2009 World Junior A Challenge for Team Canada East. Ginn has posted four wins and four losses with a 3.02 goals against average and 91.32 save percentage. The backup, Tanner McGaw has played in one complete game in his rookie season in the BCHL. The head coach and general manager of the Victoria Grizzlies is also a Spruce Kings alumni.
Game time today is 4:30pm from the Bear Mountain Arena with the game available only online as an audio webcast from the Spruce Kings website or from the BCHL Pay-Per-View with Ron Gallo providing the call of the game for both broadcasts.
Following the game, the team will hit the road for home catching the last ferry off the Island to be home in time for some left over turkey dinner on Monday. On behalf of the entire team, we would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.