Sunday, October 30, 2011

At the Quarter Mark in the Season

As I work my way back into more of my usual role with the Spruce Kings I decided to catch up with the General Manager and cover what has transpired over the first 14 games of the what is the Spruce Kings 40th season. There have been some ups and there have been some downs along the way, but the one thing that is noticeable is a winning record, especially at home. I touch on that and whole lot more in my interview with Mike Hawes who had some interesting things to say about the team both positive and negative.

It was a lengthy interview so I broke it down into four parts. In this first part we just went over some of the general impressions of the season to date and talked about the pleasant surprises so far from a team that has been hovering at or above the .500 record and hanging around in the top half of the Interior Division since the opening night.

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Now certainly through the course of a season not everything can go according to plan and sometimes things go completely the opposite direction. I asked Mike about some of those games that I saw as huge positives and early season momentum boosters such as the 8-0 win over the Trail Smoke Eaters, the 5-4 double overtime victory over the Penticton Vees and the recent 3-2 win over the Vernon Vipers. But there were also some disappointing results in there as well.

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Some big tests lay ahead for the Spruce Kings including their first meeting against the reincarnation of the Quesnel Millionaires, the Spruce Kings will play the Chilliwack Chiefs on Friday night as the first of three in a row this weekend.

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I wrapped up the interview by getting his thoughts moving forward and asking about the impact some of the rule changes are having on the team and their performance especially with the pressure of having to perform every night with only four playoff positions available in each conference.

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I, for one, am very encouraged by what I have seen through the early part of the season and am looking for many more positives from Mike Hawes, Dave Dupas and the coaching staff and especially the players that have shown so much potential and have invigorated the hockey fans of Prince George with a fun, exciting, entertaining and winning work ethic on the ice.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spruce Kings Drop a Tough One to The Bulldogs

They started slow and were never able to recover tonight as the Alberni Valley Bulldogs beat the Spruce Kings 6-1 at the Coliseum tonight. The Spruce Kings were down a good chunk of their roster, including their top 2 forwards in Khaira and De Jersey as they try out for the Junior A Challenge, and it showed as the game rolled on. Here is the recap of tonight's loss

The Look Back:

The Bulldogs came out firing early, pelting Beesley with 5 straight shots within the first few minutes. It didn't take long for Alberni Valley to fit one past the Prince George local, as Josh Mitchell opened the scoring. The Bulldogs didn't slow down though, scoring 2 more in the next six minutes. Brandon Adams and Ryan Lough were the goal scorers that eventually helped chase Beesley form the pipes. Beesley would leave having allowed 3 goals on 12 shots, though it should be noted that all three goals were odd man rushes where he made the initial save. The period ended in favour of the Bulldogs by a score of 3-0

The second period was where everything started to get interesting and chippy. The Spruce Kings started the third by shuffling their lines a bit, and it helped as Chase Golightly found the back of the net at the 9:26 mark. It appeared the momentum was about to shift, when the chippiness boiled over. Ben Woodley and Trent Dorais got tangled up behind the play, with Woodley wanting to drop the mitts. Dorais elected not to take on the big man, and after a couple butt ends from both players, they were sent to the box. The play continued, but the words didn't, Woodley ended getting the extra penalty, but spent his time continuing to challenge Dorais, and the entire Bulldogs bench for that matter. When Woodley did get out of the box, he was on a mission to unleash his anger, but it boiled over in the wrong way as he hit a Bulldog player from behind and was ejected from the game. This would spell the end of the Spruce Kings momentum swing as Alberni Valley scored twice on the power play to go up 5-1 after two periods. Lars Hespo and Yan Kalashnikov added the 4th and 5th markers.

The third was more of the same, with Alberni Valley throwing their weight around and finding the back of the net. The problem was, that the Spruce Kings didn't want to seem to push back. Alberni Valley was enjoying their time on the ice, getting under the skin of the Spruce Kings and staying there. WE would eventually see a fight between Trevor Esau and Tyler Berkholtz, but it wasn't anything more then a tug of war before they fell to the ice. The game would end in the favour of the Bulldogs by a score of 6-1, with Alberni Valley winning every battle tonight. After the game though, Coach Dave Dupas had a few choice words after the game, but as he walked to the bench, Paul Esdale didn't want any part of it. Kirk Thompson made some nice saves in relief, having to face 30 shots with 27 of those being saves. Tonight was a tough game, with a lot of credit going to the Bulldogs who walked into the Castle and played as good of a road game as you can play. Score early, score often and get under their skin.

You can get the full stats and official score sheet here.

After tonight's game I caught up with Coach Dave Dupas to get his reactions to the loss. We talked about his choice words for Coach Paul Esdale, but started by asking him about the game as a whole.

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The Three Stars:

1)(AV) Brandon Adams

2)(AV) Yan Kalashnikov

3)(PG) Ben Matthews

Next Up:

The Spruce Kings will look to bounce back form tonight's loss on Friday, as they will head to Chilliwack to take on the Cheifs.

For One Day Only...

The Spruce Kings will look to make it two in a row tonight as they host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs for the one and only time this season. Prince George heads into tonight's match up having defeated one of their division rivals, the Vernon Vipers, last night. Alberni Valley comes in having won their past three games, but had last night off and spent it watching the match up between the Spruce Kings and the Vipers. Will the extra scout day help Alberni Valley steal 2 points, or will the Spruce Kings make it two in a row. Let's preview the match up to get a better idea of what we are in store for

The Breakdown:

These two teams don't see each other very often, but when they do, it's Alberni Valley who usually walks away happy. Playing two games against each other last year, the Bulldogs split the two games. This will be the only time this year that these two squads meet, meaning bragging rights are on the table. As we have specified before, the new playoff formats make every game that much more important. Both teams sit in fourth place at the moment, but, they each have a couple of team’s right on their heels. It should also be mentioned that this is only the second game this season for the Spruce Kings against a Coastal Conference opponent, the first being a win over the Coquitlam Express. This will be the second meeting for Alberni Valley against an Interior Conference team. Their first meeting was a win against Chilliwack. And although this is the first time we get to see Alberni Valley this season, we will see a couple of returnees as two former Smoke Eaters, Daniel Delbianco and goaltender Matt Larose will lace up for the Bulldogs after being acquired in a trade. It's not known yet which goaltenders will get the start between the pipes for either team, but with Beesley playing solid last night, we'll lean towards him for the Spruce Kings. As for the Bulldogs, both goalies have seen action during the three game win streak, so with a days rest, either goal could and will be ready to start

The Stats:

Jujhar Khaira had a fantastic game last night potting 2 goals and adding a helper. Khaira currently sits in 4th place for league scoring and already has more goals than he did all of last year. Paul De Jersey still sits among the league elite in scoring, though he no longer leads the league. But he still sits in 2nd overall with 28 points and is on a 12 game point streak. Michael Colantone continues to benefit from his new line mates this year as he sits in 9th for scoring with 21 points, 9 of those being goals. It should also be noted that Ben Woodley is quickly moving his way up the scoring list for defenseman. Woodley is tied for second in scoring by a D-man and is riding a 10 game point scoring streak. Justin Morello leads the charge for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs with 9 goals and 10 assists through 12 games

Game Time:

Again, this is the only chance you will have to see the Bulldogs this season, so I would get out and check them out while you can. For those of you in Prince George, the puck drops at 7pm at the Castle. For those of you not able to make it to the game, you can watch the live web cast here or listen to the FREE audio broadcast here

Friday, October 28, 2011

Third Time's The Charm Against Vernon

Third time's the charm when it comes to defeating the Vernon Vipers. The Spruce Kings played one of their better games of this young season tonight, handing the Vipers their 4th loss of the season. They scored 1 goal a period, and that proved to be enough to defeat their Interior conference rivals. The top line was stellar once again, as was goaltender Marcus Beesley. Let's recap tonight's match up between the Vipers and your Spruce Kings

The Look Back:

The first period started out as most do, with both teams creating chances while they tried to find their groove. It was the Spruce Kings who went to work first, as Michael Colantone put home his 7th of the year with his line mates adding the helpers. That would do it for the scoring, but that wasn't it for the action. Each team had their chances to put points on the scoreboard, but Beelsey and Kirby Halcrow each made some nice stops to keep it a 1-0 score in favour of the home team. The shots ended 8-7 for the Spruce Kings

The Vernon Vipers came out strong in the second period, and ended up tying the game up just 3:36 in. Marc Hetnik tallied first for the Vipers with Ryan Renz getting the lone assist. The Spruce Kings didn't wait long though to re-establish their lead as Jujhar Khaira scored on the power play 4 minutes later. Paul De Jersey and Chase Golightly were in on his first of the night. But Prince Georges new lead wouldn't last long either as John Knisely and Darren Nowick combined to tie up the game for the second time in the period. That's how we would head into the dressing room, with the Spruce Kings still leading the shot totals 22-20

The third period saw the entertaining game roll on with both teams getting chances, but the goalies were standing tall. For the better part of this young season Prince Georges power play hasn't been up to par, but tonight it seemed to click as Jujhar Khaira helped his team grab the lead with his second of the game. Woodley and De Jersey helped Khaira on what would be the games winning goal. Late in the third the Vipers did give it one last final push, pulling Halcrow for the extra skater, but the Spruce Kings held down the fort, winning their 7th of the season

The Stats:

Jujhar Khaira had another fantastic game, scoring twice and adding a helper. Paul De Jersey assisted on all three goals while Ben Woodley added an assist, taking his point streak this season to 10 games. Marcus Beesley was solid between the pipes once again, stopping 26 shots to record his 6th win of the season

To see the complete recap and official box score of tonight's game, click here

Three Stars:

3) (PG) Paul De Jersey

2) (VER) John Knisley

1) (PG) Jujhar Khaira

Next Game:

The Spruce Kings will look to build off of this big win tomorrow night as they will host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. The puck drops at 7pm at the Castle. You can catch the web cast here or listen to the FREE audio broadcast here

We'll see or talk to you tomorrow

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Spruce Kings Look to Bounce Back in Vernon

The streak came to an end last night, but that doesn't mean the Spruce Kings get to sit back and lick their wounds. Instead they have to travel to Vernon for a late afternoon match up with another division rival. Prince George will take on the Vipers of Vernon this afternoon with hopes of starting a new winning streak. Before last night's match up we talked about the importance of these two divisional match ups, and now with last night's result, this one becomes even more important with Merritt starting to find more success. The puck will drop today at 4pm, so let's preview the match up between the Vernon Vipers and your Spruce Kings

The Breakdown:

These two teams have already met once this season, and it's a game that Prince George would like to forget. The Spruce Kings lead 4-1 with 3 minutes left in the game when the Vipers stormed back, forced overtime and eventually won it. It was a heart breaking loss, but at the same time, it showed that the Spruce Kings could not only compete wth one of the top teams in the league, they can dominate. This time around coach Dupas will be reiterating to his squad that they need to play a full 60 miutes if they want to defeat one of the best. The Spruce Kings come into this game losing their first in five games, as they dropped a 6-2 desicion to Westside. The Vernon Vipers come in much happier, having just beat Trail 6-2 on the road. Speaking of the road, Prince George hasn't enjoy their time away from home very much this season. So far they own a 1-2-0-1 record away from the Castle, but are hoping to finish what they started 3 weeks ago. On the other side, the Vipers have been very good in their own barn, going 4-1 with the sole loss being against Penticton. It should also be noted that although the Spruce KIngs have a quick turn around, the Vipers are playing their third game in as many days. Fatigue will be a factory for both temas, but who will it affect more?

The Stats:

It's well documented how good Prine George's first line has been thus far, but last night they were held in check. Paul De Jersey did add a goal to his totals, but that line failed to dominate as they have in past games. Jujhar Khaira was held off of the stats sheet for the first time in 5 games. De Jersey still leads the league in goals scored, but Travis St. Denis is quickly closing in. Another Spruce King player who deserves some notice is big hulking defenceman Ben Woodley as he sits in 3rd for scoring by a D-Man. The Vernon Vipers have been using a scoring by commity approach when it comes to their games. Michael Zalewski, Darren Nowick and Adam Tambellini sit at or above a point per game average. And only 2 players on the roaster sit without a point this season.

Bumps and Bruises:

The Spruce Kings contnue to nurse some injuries early in the season. Jeff Earnest and Jared Crossan are the only player slisted on the BCHL website with injuries, but Sean Landrey, Connor Tiechko and Dylan Tappe didn't suit up last night, and likely won't again today.

Game Time:

Today's game will see the puck drop at 4pm at the Wesbild Centre. You can catch the webcast and free audio broadcast here. Just click the "Home Broadcast" link when the game starts. Go Spruce Kings

Saturday, October 22, 2011

PG Looks to Steal One in Westside

The Prince George Spruce Kings are on their first weekend road trip in three weeks, and are a much different team since that time. Prince George has rattled off 5 wins in a row, 2 of them exciting comebacks. The current winning streak has helped lift the Spruce Kings into third in the Interior Conference, but a couple of wins this weekend could see them jump into second place, even first. Tonight’s match up will be in Kelowna, as the boys will challenge the Westside Warriors. This is the first of seven regular season match ups between these clubs, and as said before, with the new playoff format, every division game becomes that much more important. So let's preview tonight's game between the Westside Warriors and the Prince George Spruce Kings and the Westside Warriors

The Break Down:

The Spruce Kings came into this season under the radar, having won just 13 games last season. But this is now a team that can no longer sneak into a barn and steal 2 points. Prince George currently holds the title of the hottest team in the league, having won 5 in a row and housing two of the leagues leading scorers. Goaltender Marcus Beesley has made a solid transition into the BCHL, having backstopped the Kings in all five of their past wins. The biggest thing to note about this new squad is that they have shown the ability to battle back when down. Twice Prince George has trailed late in the third, only to battle back and win it. This is a completely new Spruce Kings team, and teams have started to notice this, meaning things won't be getting any easier for them. The Westside Warriors are once again off to a good start, currently sitting 4th and tied with PG in points. The Warriors haven't finished worse than 4th since the 06/07 season, and look sharp once again. These two teams faced off once during pre season play, the Warriors came out on top of that one by a score of 3-1. Westside have had the Spruce Kings number as of late, winning 5 of 6 last year, and winning 9 of the past 10 contests. You actually have to go back to February of 2009 to find the last time the Spruce Kings won a game at Royal Le Page Place

The Stats:

The Spruce Kings top line is one of the hottest in the league right now as Paul De Jersey, Jujhar Khiara and Michael Colantone have found their chemistry. De Jersey and Khiara sit tied for 2nd in league scoring, while Colantone sits in 10th. De Jersey currently leads the league in goals scored with 13 through 10 games, but had his 7 game goal scoring streak snapped on Thursday. Jujhar Khaira has benefited nicely from his new teammates, grabbing 9 goals and 13 assists through 10 games and is riding a 5 game point stream with 16 points during that stretch. The Westside Warriors leading scorer this season is Connor Dempsey, who has 8 goals and 9 assists through 11 games, good for 12th in the league.

Bumps and Bruises:

The Spruce Kings have had a visit by the injury bug quite a few times this season. Jeff Earnest (Jaw) and Jarred Crossan (Wrist) currently sit on the long term shelf. While Tyson Witala has missed a few games after taking a puck off of the foot and Connor Tiechko has missed the least 4 games, and could miss out on tonight’s contest as well. The BCHL website isn't showing any Warrior injuries at the moment, so well see come game time who plays and who doesn't

Game Time:

The puck drops tonight at Royal Le page Place at 7pm. You can catch the web cast and free Audio broadcast here. Go Spruce Kings!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spruce Kings Win Their Fourth Straight

It wasn't their best game of the season, but Prince George did find a way to capitalize on their chances beating Trail for the second straight night. The Spruce Kings actually found themselves down on the score sheet in the 2nd period, but battled back to take the lead and never looked back. Their top line had another stellar game, and Marcus Beesley back stopped them to their 4th straight win. Let's recap tonight's game between the Trail Smoke Eaters, and your Prince George Spruce Kings

The Recap:

The first period saw back and forth action, with both teams getting lots of chances. It became a goaltenders duel and Matt Larose was leading the charge. Larose had to make 13 stops in the 1st period, and 3 of them were quality saves, including a robbery of Paul De Jersey as he stretched out his paddle to get a piece of it. Marcus Beesley made a few nice saves of his own, as neither team was able to find the back of the net. It was obvious from this period of play that the Smokies were out to prove that tonight would be much different than the 8-0 loss the night before

The 2nd period started out great for the Smokies, and they seemed to snatch hold of the momentum as Nicholas Wong fired a shot from the point to open the scoring. It didn't take long though for the Spruce Kings to halt any potential onslaught of the Smoke Eaters as Jujhar Khaira put home a rebound on the power play. His line mates De Jersey and Colantone added the helpers on the tying goal. This goal seemed to wake up the Spruce Kings as Jujhar Khaira scored again 4 minutes later, with Paul De Jersey adding a 3rd goal towards the end of the frame. It was a tough 10 minutes for the Smoke Eaters, as they went from dictating the play, to chasing Prince George around the ice. We went into the break with the Spruce Kings leading 3-1. Matt Larose continued to be the Smokies best player, as had faced 31 shots through 2 periods

The third period was more of the same as the Spruce Kings were getting chances, and capitalizing on them. Sean Landrey scored his second of the season, finding the puck out front of the net as it took a weird bounce off of the boards. Trail would attempt to make a game of it as Clayton Chessa blasted a shot from the point past Beesley. The Smokies would get their fair share of chances, but couldn't bring the game any closer than it was. Paul De Jersey would put the icing on the cake, scoring his second of the game, adding to his league leading scoring totals. The Spruce Kings would finish of the sweep of Trail, tallying their fourth straight win over a division rival. The win moves the Spruce Kings record to 5-3-0-1, good to leap frog them into third in the interior conference division

The Stats Breakdown:

Jujhar Khaira was the Spruce Kings best forward on the night, scoring twice, including the game winner, and racking up an assist. The 3 point night would put Khiara into the 3rd spot of the scoring race. Leading that scoring race is one of his line mates, Paul De Jersey with 22 points in 9 games. De Jersey had 2 goals in the win, which brings his league leading goal total to 14. Michael Colantone continued to rack up points as a Spruce King, recording 4 assists, moving him up form 16th to 6th on the list. Clayton Chessa scored his 7th goal for the Smoke Eaters, bringing his point total to, 7. Marcus Beesley made 22 saves to move his record to 4-1 on the season. Matt Larose was incredible in tonight's loss, making 42 saves, many of them highlight reel.

Check out the official box score here

The Three Stars:

3) (TRA) Matt Larose – 38 Saves

2) (PG) Michael Colantone – 4 Assists

1) (PG) Jujhar Khaira - 2 Goals, 1 Assist

I caught up with Jujhar Khaira after the game to talk about his excellent play as of late, his new line mates and his new look Spruce Kings. I started by asking him about tonight's big win

download audio file

Up Next:

The Spruce Kings will have a couple of days off, and get ready to host the Coquitlam Express at The Coliseum. You can catch that game Thursday night at the Castle, on the BCHL website, or on our ustream channel

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Spruce Kings Dominate the Smokies

Spruce Kings are all smiles after posting an 8-0 win
It was the most complete game of this young season and showed exactly what the Spruce Kings are capable of. Prince George controlled the game tonight, beating out the Smoke Eaters in just about every category, including the most important one - the scoreboard as they took home an 8-0 decision. The best line on the ice tonight was definitely Prince George's first line as they combined for 11 points and 5 of the 8 goals. Marcus Beesley was also a bright spot as he notched his first career shutout of his BCHL career. Let's recap tonight's game between the Spruce kings and the Smoke Eaters

The Recap:

It didn't take long for the Spruce Kings to open up the scoring as Michael Colantone picked up where he left off at the Coliseum, scoring at the 3:30 mark of the 1st to give his team the lead. The next 10 minutes saw both teams generate some scoring chances, but Prince George was still getting the better of Trail, and it continued to pay of at the 16:34 mark as Paul De Jersey added to his league leading goal total by firing one past Reed Vogt. His linemates Michael Colantone and Jujhar Khaira added assists on the goal, helping their team head into the dressing room up by two.

The second period is where the game broke open for the Spruce Kings, with nothing seeming to go wrong. Spencer McHaffie opened up the scoring in the 2nd with the first of his BCHL career. Ben Matthews and Paul De Jersey helped the twin notch his first goal. Prince George would continue to pour it on as Michael Colantone got his second of the game, Michael Klonarakis got his first career BCHL goal and Jujhar Khaira his first of two as the Spruce Kings went into the break up 6-0.

The third saw more of the same as Prince George applied pressure and capitalized on their chances while Marcus Beesley did his part stopping any and all shots thrown his way. Myles Fitzgerald and Jujhar Khaira put the official nails in the coffin as the Spruce Kings took the contest by a score of 8-0. Both goaltenders saw action for the Smokies as Reed Vojt was pulled halfway through the second in favour of Matt Larose. Vojt made 19 saves while Larose posted 11 saves.

The Stats:

Jujhar Khaira had an outstanding game for the Spruce Kings, notching 2 goals while adding a couple of assists. Those 4 points moved him up to 5th in the BCHL scoring race. Paul De Jersey added to his league leading point total scoring once and adding 3 assists. De Jersey continues to sit a top the league in scoring with 19 points. Michael Colantone had another great night for Prince George, scoring twice and grabbing an assist. As listed above, Spencer Mchaffie and Michael Klonarakis got their first goals of their BCHL careers. Congrats to those two men, and here's to many more. Beesley finished the game making 26 saves to post his first ever shutout as a BCHL goaltender. It was also Marcus Beesley's 3rd straight win.

For a full recap of the game and to check the official score sheet, click here

The Three Stars Tonight:

3) (PG) Michael Colantone

2) (PG) Jujhar Khaira

1) (PG) Marcus Beesley

Next Game:

These two teams will do battle once again tomorrow night at the Castle, with the puck dropping at 7pm. If you can't make it down to the Castle tomorrow, you can catch the game a few different ways. The webcast will be available on the BCHL website here, and you can listen to the FREE audio broadcast here. Hope to see you at the rink, or chat with you online.

Until tomorrow Spruce Kings fans.

The Spruce Kings and Smoke Eaters Square Off

Another weekend set of games, and once again the Castle will be on display as the Spruce Kings will host the Trail Smoke Eaters today and tomorrow. The Spruce Kings are coming into tonight's match up on a high note, having won their last two against Penticton and most recently beating the Silverbacks in Salmon Arm. The Smoke Eaters have had a tough start to the season going 1-5-1 through 7 games, and are currently in a 3 game losing streak. It's another big weekend set between division rivals, and a couple of games that can either shift your season in the right direction, or stall the momentum needed to make a run up the ladder. So, let's preview this weekend's match up between the Smoke Eaters, and your Prince George Spruce Kings.

The Break Down:

The Trail Smoke Eaters have had the Spruce Kings number over these past few years, especially last year. The Smoke Eaters swept Prince George in the season series last year and has won 9 of the past 10 match ups. You have to go back to the 07/08 season to find the last time the Spruce Kings beat the Smokies on home ice. They are hoping to change that this weekend and fans should feel good about their chances. The Spruce Kings are off to a good start to the season, putting together a 3-3-0-1 record through the first 7 games. Aside from a bad game against Penticton, the Spruce Kings have been competitive in every contest and have shown that they can put the puck in the back of the net at any moment. The Smokies only win this season did come away from their own barn, beating the Centennials in Merritt, bringing their road record to 
1-2. The Spruce Kings are 2-2 at the Castle this season, and each time they have hosted a team for a back to back series, they have split the games.

News and Notes:

It looks like Paul De Jersey has found his fit in the BCHL as he currently leads the league in goals scored and points. De Jersey has 11 goals this season, which matches his goal total from his first three seasons. Clayton Chessa leads the Smoke Eaters in scoring with 6 goals and 1 assist. Marcus Beesley has started the last 2 games for the Spruce Kings, winning both. It's not known who will start tonight, but with another back to back set, expect both Beesley and Thompson to start, but the days unknown. Matt Larose has started 6 of the Smokies 7 games going 1-5. While rookie tender Reed Vogt has started 1 game, playing relief in another. It's not known who will get the start tonight, but look for each guy to get a start this weekend. This game will also see a few players square off against their old teams. Ben Matthews and Dylan Tappe played last season with the Smoke Eaters and although most of their old teammates are no longer with the team, it will still be the first time they take on their old squad. For the Smoke Eaters, Clayton McEwan is the only player to ave a link to the Prince George, having played 27 games for the Spruce Kings during the 08/09 and the 09/10 seasons.

Bumps and Bruises:

The Spruce Kings will be without a few players tonight as Jared Crossan (Hand) and Jeff Earnest (Jaw) are still rehabbing injuries. Tyson Witala has sat on the sidelines the past 2 games due to taking a puck off the foot, it's not known if he will lace up the skates tonight or not. Kyle Horseman (Wrist) is the only Smoke Eater who is listed on the BCHL website with an injury at the moment.

Game Time:

The first of this back to back home series in Prince George will start tonight with the puck dropping at 7pm. There are a few different ways for you to catch the game tonight. The best way to check out the game tonight would be to head down to the Prince George Coliseum. If you aren't in Prince George you can watch the webcast on the BCHL website here, or you can listen to the free audio broadcast here. Be sure to check the Facebook page and our twitter for more updates and analysis after tonight's game. Hope to see you at the rink

Go Sprucies!!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Spruce Kings and Silverbacks Preview

Salmon Arm, here we come! The Spruce Kings are on the bus and heading down to face the Silverbacks as you read this. It''s another important game against a division rival, and one that the Spruce Kings will be favoured to win. But this game is anything but a gimme, it will be another long hard fought battle with one team moving up a spot in the interior conference standings. With that in mind, let's preview the match up between the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and your Prince George Spruce Kings

The Break Down:

As always, especially with the new playoff format, games against conference rivals are must win games. This year, instead of 7 of the 8 teams getting into the post season, only 4 teams will see extra action in March. With Penticton, Powell River and Westside separating themselves from the pack, these games against the other 4 Interior Conference teams become even more important than they already are. Prince George currently sits in 5th place, with Salmon Arm just behind them in 6th. The winner of tonight's match up will temporarily jump into the 4th spot in the standings, and help build on tie breakers for the end of the season. This will be the first of eight meetings between these two teams this season, with the next one happening on November 19th. These two squads faced off six times last season with the Spruce Kings losing four of them.

The Spruce Kings are coming off a 2 game split with the Penticton Vees, winning the second game in double overtime with .2 seconds left. It was the Spruce Kings first win since their season opener against Merritt, and their first win over Penticton in 4 years. Salmon Arm is also coming into tonight's contest on a high note having won their last two games. It was their first two wins of the season beating the Trails Smoke Eaters in a home and home match up. The Sunwave Center is always a tough place for an opponent to walk into as the Silverbacks have found a lot of success skating in front of fans. They were 22-7-1 last season and are 1-1-0-1 this season. The Spruce Kings are yet to win agame on the road this year, going 0-1-0-1 in Pentcton and Vernon. Can Prince George grab their first win away from the Castle? Only time will tell

News and Notes:

The Silverbacks leading scorer for the season is Morgan Zulinick who sits at 15th in league scoring with 10 points . The Spruce Kings leading scorer in this early season is Paul De Jersey who sits in 3rd in league scoring with 12 points, and 1st in goals scored with 9. It's not known who will start in goal for either team come time for puck drop tonight, but it's a safe bet to say Kurt Williams will start for the Silverbacks. Williams has started 6 of the 7 games this season accumulating a 2-4 record. The Spruce Kings have went back and forth this season between Kirk Thompson and Marcus Beesley. In talking with coach Dave Dupas after Saturday's game, he didn't want reveal who would start yet, but did say at the start of the season they would ride the hot hand and Beesley is the last goalie to scoop up a win for the Spruce Kings. Look for the rookie Beesley to start between the pipes

Scrapes and Bruises:

Joel Kipp is the only Silverback who is currently listed on the roster with an injury as he has a ruptured spleen. Kipp will not play. The Spruce Kings are continuing to rehab a few starters as Jarred Crossan, Connor Tiechko and Jeff Earnest will sit on the sideline. Tyson Witala didn't play on Saturday as he took a puck off of the foot on Friday night, it is unknown if he will play tonight

Game Time:

The Silverbakcs and the Spruce Kings will face off tonight at 7pm at the Sunwave Arena. You can find the live webcast for tonight’s match up here

Go Spruce Kings

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Are You Kidding Me?!

Michael Colantone scores the game winning goal
at the 69:59.8 mark of the game

That was the line of the night as the Prince George Spruce Kings beat the Penticton Vees in one the best games you'll see all year. It took two periods worth of overtime to settle the score, and even then it came down to the last second, literally. Those in attendance tonight witness a few different lead changes, some brilliant saves and lots of back and forth action throughout the game. Let's recap this amazing game between the Spruce Kings and the Vees.

The first period saw the Spruce Kings jump out on top as Ben Woodley potted his first of the season. Leo Fitzgerald and Chase Golightly chipped in on the first goal as Prince George was out to show that this game was going to be different. Both teams traded chances before Mike Reily of the Vees put a wrap around of off Ben Matthews stick and in. It took just over two minutes for the Vees to snatch back the lead as Fogarty, Depourcq and Benik had a nice little give in go, with Fogarty finishing the job. The period ended with the Vees on top, but the Spruce Kings once again were showing that they didn't come to lay down.

The second period started of great for the home team as Dylan Tappe put home his first of the season just 27 seconds in. Sean Landrey and Ben Woodley got the assists on the play. Then, almost as if Prince George said, anything that you can do we can do better, they scored their third goal just over a minute later. The Spruce Kings top line of Jujhar Khaira, Paul De Jersey and Michael Colantone combined on the play that took the lead for the time being. But the lead wouldn't last for long as the newly committed Notra Dame product Mario Lucia scored to tie things up at three on the power play. The period ended that way as the Vees went into the intermission out shooting Prince George 22-16.

The third period showed us more of the same as both teams traded scoring chances and hits. As talked about before the game, winning the special teams battle was key to victory, and Penticton showed once again that if you take an undisciplined penalty, they will make you pay. Mario Lucia scored his second of the game on the power play from Travis St. Dennis and Connor Reilly. Once again, both teams showed off their offensive brilliance as Beesley and Katunar made some stellar saves to keep their team in it. The Spruce Kings were then blessed with a power play chance late in the third period, and they made no mistake with it, tying the game up with 56 seconds left. It was Paul De Jersey, leading scorer for the Spruce Kings, who had the puck bounce in front of him and put it past Katunar to force overtime.

Obviously with the BCHL overtime rules there is tons of open ice for these skilled players to do their business. The 4 on 4 action was entertaining, but it almost became deadly for Prince George as Esau took a tripping penalty late in the 1st overtime. Beesley played outstanding during this penalty kill as he made many fantastic saves as his team played with just three men. After the penalty the teams went to 3 on 3 for the remainder of the second overtime. The ice was huge, and it seemed to favour the Vees as they used their speed to create multiple chances, but Marcus Beesley was up to the test. Then, we got to see something you rarely get to see as a hockey fan, a penalty shot in overtime. Paul De Jersey was taken down while moving in alone, and because of that, he had the game on his stick at centre ice.

The tension and excitement was building, but De Jersey ended up losing the puck as he deaked to his back hand and it trickled into the corner. It was an anti climactic way for one of the most exciting plays in hockey to end. But, the Prince George fans would not go home disappointed. With 12.6 seconds left, the face off was deep in the Spruce Kings zone, and it seemed the best that they could hope for at that moment was a tie. The Vees won the initial draw, but Jujhar Khaira fought Stecher for the puck at the blue line and ended up pushing it forward. The Spruce Kings Chase Golightly moved up ice on a 2 on 1 with Michael Colantone. They hit centre ice with 3 seconds remaining, and it seemed everyone was thinking the same thing, “Chase, shoot!” Luckily for us, we were wrong as Golightly made the pass to Colantone and he put home the game winner with just .2 seconds remaining in the second overtime. It was an amazing ending to an incredible game.

They were many players who had outstanding games, but the two players who won't get as much credit as they should are the goaltenders. Chad Katunar and Marcus Beesley both made some fine saves in this effort, and both made some key saves in overtime. On the last goal, it's hard to blame Katunar as it was a shot and a moment that 9 times out of 10, won't come to be. Mario Lucia was a definite star for the Vees tonight as was the entire top line. The Vees will win a lot of games this season just based on those three fine players. The top line of the Spruce Kings had a stellar game as well, as did newer Spruce Kings defenceman Chase Golightly. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Special teams battle was once again won by the Vees as they scored 2 power play goals. The Spruce Kings did take advantage of one of their opportunities, their 4th goal was on the power play. As you'll hear coach Dave Dupas say, they'll need to tone down the undisciplined penalties and eliminate the turnovers, as most times, it will cost them the game.

Your Three Stars

3) (Pen) Mario Lucia
2) (PG) Paul De Jersey
1) (PG) Michael Colantone

To catch a full recap and box score of tonight's game, click here

After the game I caught up with tonight’s game winning hero Michael Colantone. We chatted about his reaction to the goal and how he likes his new squad.

download audio file

I also had the chance to talk with coach Dave Dupas about what this win means for his squad and what we can expect moving forward.

download audio file

The Spruce Kings next game will be on Wednesday in Salmon arm and then they will host the Trail Smoke Eaters at the Coliseum next Friday and Saturday night. All three games will start at 7pm. Be sure to keep checking the Spruce Kings Facebook and Twitter for updates

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Spruce Kings Drop One To The Vees

It was a spirited effort tonight, but, it wasn't enough as the Penticton Vees downed the Prince George Spruce Kings 5-2 at the Coliseum. The game saw waves of offensive attack from both sides, but it was the Vees who made the better of those chances, putting in goals every way possible. The Vees scored a power play goal, a short handed goal, an even strength goal and an empty netter in the win tonight. But, it wasn't all Vees as the Spruce Kings did have moments of momentum, and came within inches of tying the game up. So, let's recap tonight's game between the Penticton Vees and the Prince George Spruce Kings

Period one was a back and forth affair that saw both teams generate chances, with Prince George getting the better of them. The 9-1 loss to the Vees was well documented coming into tonight, and if you thought that Prince George couldn't match the Vees in speed or talent, you were wrong. The 1st period definitely swayed in favour of the Spruce Kings as they lead 10-6 after one period. Both goalies made stellar saves as Thompson and Garteig started a sew saw match of anything that you can do, I can do better. One of the turning points may have came at the end of the first as Trevor Esau was ejected from the game for a check from the behind. This penalty left the Spruce Kings short handed heading into the 3rd.

The Vees had 1 minute worth a power play to take the lead, but they needed just just 27 seconds to do so. Joey Benik put home a back door feed from Connor Reily and Travis St. Dennis. The Vees didn't take long to add to their lead as Travis St. Dennis found the back of the net on a very weird goal. The assists went to his line mates Connor Reily and Mairo Lucia as the Vees snatched the momentum away quickly and swiftly. The rest of the period saw some more back and forth action, that featured a couple of key and brilliant saves from Garteig. The Spruce Kings were playing well, and although Penalties were hurting them, they were in the game, but still were behind the eight ball

The third period didn't start out any better for the Spruce Kings as Travis St. Dennis scored on a short handed break away attempt to put the Vees up by three. Prince George wasn't willing to go down without a fight though, as the Fitzgerald triplets combined for the Kings first goal. Myles was the goal scorer, while Leo and Gerry did the dirty work to set it up. It only took 1:32 for the Spruce Kings to make things very interesting as Paul De Jersey proved why he is one of the best offensive talents in the league, riffling a shot top shelf to bring the game within one. New comer Michael Colantone and Ben Woodley added the assists on the goal. Though just when it looked like the Spruce Kings were going to tie the game and change the course of the game, the Vees found a way to deflated the building as Mario Lucia put a wrist shot past Kirk Thompson. The goal turned out to be a killer and the final dagger in the Spruce Kings. Ryan Reilly would add an empty netter to seal the deal to bring the score to 5-2 in favour of the Vees

To see the full recap and box score of tonight's game, click here

Your three stars in tonight's contests

3) (Pen) Michael Garteig

2) (PG) Paul De Jesery

1) (Pen) Travis ST. Dennis

The score isn't necessarily a good indicator of how this game went. A quick look at the box score would indicate that the Vees handled the Spruce Kings, but that just isn't the case. The Kings played extremely well 5 on 5 against the Vees and it could even be argued that they were the better team 5 on 5. But, as talked about during the pre game, special teams were the difference, and it was the Vees who owned that part of the game. They scored a goal just about every you could, and took advantage of the bounces that went their way. The Spruce Kings, although they won't want to hear it, have some good things to use and move forward with going into tomorrow night/ If they can stay out of the box, and grab a hold of the positive bounces thrown their way, tomorrow can be a completely different game

Game two of this back to back Coliseum match up between the Vees and the Spruce Kings will go tomorrow night, with the puck dropping once again at 7pm. You can catch updates on our Facebook page and on our Twitter. We'll have the webcast on the BCHL Website as usual, and we'll also have the free Audio Feed Here

See you at the rink, or online

Spruce Kings and Vees Preview

The Spruce Kings will finally hit the ice at the Castle once again, and I'm sure they are very happy about this. The Spruce Kings are 1-2-0-1 through the first 4 games of the season, with the sole win coming at home. The Spruce Kings had an up and down road trip that saw them come within minutes of beating the Vernon Vipers, but also saw them take a 9-2 beating from tonight's opponent, the Penticton Vees. The Spruce Kings have dropped their past three games, but hope a home coming can swing things back in their favour. With that in mind, let's preview tonight’s match up between the Penticton Vees and your Prince George Spruce Kings:

--------The Break Down-----------

This weekends set of games will be important one's for the Spruce Kings as they work to establish their place in the Interior Conference. With the new playoff format this year, every game becomes that much more important, especially when you take on a division rival. The Spruce Kings are 0-9-1 in their past 10 versus the Vees, and haven’t beaten Penticton since November of 2007. Sprinkled in between those loses have been a couple of ties, but the Spruce Kings are definitely looking to turn things around tonight. The past 3 games have seen both Prince George net minders play, and both actually spent some time against tonight's opponent Penticton. Kirk Thompson started in goal, but made way for back up Marcus Beesley halfway through the game. It's not known who will start in goal tonight, but with a week off to rest and practice, it is thought that Thompson will be between the pipes by puck drop

The Penticton Vees are riding a three game winning streak into tonight, as we said before, they have had the Spruce Kings number over the past few years. The Vees lost their second game of the year to the newest BCHL franchise Chilliwack, but have since rebounded with dominating efforts over Prince George, Coquitlam and Trail. The Vees sit at 4th overall when it comes to power play percentage, scoring the most goals while being a man up. But, most of the goals have come at home, as they have just 1 power play goal in 15 tries in other barns. Tyler St. Dennis of the Vees is leading the league in scoring at the moment, and will definitely be a man that the Spruce Kings will need to keep their eye on as the night progresses. Goaltender Michael Garteig will likely get the start tonight for two reasons. He has been playing very well through the first 5 games, and, the big kicker being Garteig was born in Prince George. You can be sure that he will have some family in attendance tonight and will be jacked and ready to go for the puck drop

As stated, the Penticton Vees have a great power play, and lots of fire power. It will be key for the Spruce kings to stay out of the box as they allowed 4 power play goals the last time these two met. On the flip side, if the Spruce Kings can stay disciplined and receive some power play time of their own, they can start generating some chances. The Spruce Kings have had a rough start to the season, going just 2 for 17 on the man advantage

-------News and Notes--------

The Spruce Kings will have two brand new faces in the line up tonight as they made trades for former Victoria Grizzly Michael Colantone and a former Westside Warrior Tyson Witala. Colantone brings 4 assists with him and Witala brings 1 goal and 1 assist. Chase Golightly will also hit the ice at the Castle for the first time this season. Golightly played 26 games for the Spruce Kings last year, capturing 13 points

The Spruce Kings have quite a few players banged up at the moment. The list includes Jeff Ernest (Jaw), Jared Crossan (Hand), Sam Waterfield (Knee) and Cory Bardock (Undisclosed). For the Penticton Vees, Nick Aimes (Concussion Symptoms) has been ruled out for an undisclosed amount of time. It's unknown if Chad Bannor or Shane Hanna will play, but both men missed Wednesday contest against Merritt

----------Game Time-----------

The Vees will look to add to their 3 game winning streak tonight, while the Spruce Kings will look for their first win since the first game of the season. We'll see who comes out on top tonight as the puck is set to drop at 7pm at the Prince George Coliseum. You can catch updates for tonight's match up on our Facebook and Twitter. You can watch the Webcast of tonight's game on the BCHL Website and you can also catch the Audio Broadcast for free here. As for all Prince George home games, I will have tonight's call on the BCHL website and the free audio broadcast. My usual colour man Todd Doherty will not be at tonight’s game, filling in for him will be Mike Erickson.

See you at the Rink, or online