Hockey can be a fun sport to both play and watch, but sometimes the realty of the game sinks in and that realty isn't always kind. Such was the case following the December 1st player card cut-down date. On this day every junior hockey team is limited to twenty-five player cards for the remainder of the season.
December 1st becomes one of those days when you come to expect trades to be made as teams try and sure up their 23 man roster. The inner office becomes a buzz of activity with members of the hockey operations staff manning the phones and trying to get players that will strengthen the team. In all of this, some hard decisions have to be made that will impact the makeup of the dressing rooms.
Following the December 1st deadline, the Spruce Kings were a team that saw some players moved out and new players named to come in. Released from the team were Brendon Fornwald ('91 F), Riley Spraggs ('91 F) and twenty year old goaltender Alex Wright. None were the subject of a trade but were given their release as the Spruce Kings brought in two players from the Junior B ranks in Cameron Large and Brandon Watson.
Cameron Large is no stranger to the Prince George Spruce Kings having attended camps over the past two years here and battling hard enough to earn the respect of the scouts and coaches. This respect was well deserved with the right handed goaltender showing great numbers in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League with an 11-2 record and a 2.45 goals against average and 92.3 save percentage.
Brandon Watson is familiar with the Spruce Kings having played against Prince George last season as a member of the Quesnel Millionaires. This season with the Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, Watson has an impressive 15 goals and 13 assists through 24 games. Impressive because he has also handed 106 minutes in penalties showing that he can be a fierce competitor and willing to battle in the dirty areas.
One trade was made and that was for Mike Puddifant in exchange for future considerations with the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL. Puddifant is solid defenceman that can be tough to play against. As I found out from Dave Dupas, the head coach of the Spruce Kings, Puddifant can help to fill a need on the blue line and make the team stronger defensively.
I spoke with Dave Dupas after the dust had settled on the changes and went through the player moves and took a brief look ahead to this weekend's pair of games against the Cowichan Valley Capitals (Friday at 7pm) and the Victoria Grizzlies (Saturday at 7pm).
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