Two games, two nights and we have a split. Two games in and we already get to use a playoff term. The Prince George Spruce Kings had a great a chance to start off the season with two wins in a row and send an Interior Conference rival home with a losing record on opening weekend. Merritt though, decided they wanted to have a happy trip back home.
The game started off nicely for the Prince George Spruce Kings as Jujhar Khaira picked up his second goal in as many nights. His new line mats Paul De Jersey and Michael Klonarakis picked up the assists to start the game. Merritt answered right back, proving that they were not going to get rolled over in game 2, as Payton Schaefer fired one past Kirk Thompson midway through the 1st. The period was just about over when the Fitzgerald Triplets all combined together on the second goal. Leo found the back of the net, while Myles and Gerry started it off. The period ended with the momentum shifted in flavor of the Spruce Kings
The second period saw the penalties come fast and furious as the Spruce Kings found themselves down a man throughout a good chunk of the period, and that is exactly how the game got all tied up. Brandon Pfeil ripped one form the point on a 5 on 3 power play and this game was even once again. It didn't take long for the Centennials to use the newly stolen momentum, and took their first lead of the game as Stephen Wall found a rebound and out it past Thompson. The possible turning point of the game came when the Spruce Kings were awarded their own 5 on 3 power play for a full two minutes. Although things fizzled quickly, as they only generated a few shots, none of which were quality scoring chances. The period ended with the Centennials heading into the dressing room with the lead
The third period saw the fast paced, physical play continue, with both teams providing entertaining action and giving the fans their money's worth. At the halfway point of the period, the Fitzgerald Triplets combined together once again to tie the game up at three. It was Leo once again who found the back of the net as his brothers made a few nifty plays. But just over 2 minutes later, the Centennials would put home the eventual winner as one of their top offensive threats Regan Soquila found the back of the net. His line mates Evan Stack and Brandon Bruce would help out on the goal. The last five minutes saw the Spruce Kings get a late power play opportunity, and saw an exciting sequence in the final minute that almost lead to a tying goal. The game ended 4-3 in favour of the Merritt Centennials as they were able to pick up a split in Prince George and head back home happy. Tyler Steel had his first start tonight, and although he was a bit shaky through the first two periods, he was exceptional in the third facing 21 of his 38 shots in that final frame
For a full recap on scoring, penalties etc, click here
The 3 Stars
3) Tyler Steel - 35 Saves
2)Leo Fitzgerald - 2 Goals
1) Regan Soquila - 1 Goal (GWG) 1 Assist
Unlike last night, the bounces just didn't favour Prince George tonight, and some undisciplined play left them shorthanded one to many times. It was a gutsy effort tonight, but again it was a tail of two teams. At one point they were firing on all cylinders, the other they made a few mistakes, and the Cents capitalized. Irk Thompson will now move to 1-1 on the season, but should be happy about his play this weekend, as he made some great saves on both nights. Overall, there are a few really good things to take away from this weekends 2 game series against Merritt. They did get a win in the opener, and a good one at that. Even though they did lose tonight, thy didn't get run over, and they were one more bounce away from forcing overtime. The top line has found some early chemistry and the Fitzgerald triplets are a lot of fun to watch.
The Spruce Kings will now have this week to work on their game and get ready for the first road trip of the season. They will play two very tough games next weekend as Friday the Spruce Kings will play in Penticton and then travel to Vernon. These are two of the best teams in the league, and will be a great measuring stick early in the season for Prince George. As always keep checking in with this blog, our facebook and twitter for all your Spruce Kings updates