Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Ends With a Bang

The Spruce Kings came into tonight;s match up on a high note, having dumped another division rival just two nights before. Trail came into this match up fresh off the Christmas break, and it showed on the ice through out the first 40 minutes. There was one man who brought his “A” game the entire game, and that was Smokies goaltender Lyndon Standwood. Stanwood many miraculous saves throughout the game, and really was the only reason the Spruce Kings didn't run the score u into the double digits.

The first period alone he faced 14 shots, saving all but one as Michael Colantone got his 4th goal in the past two games. The goal came on a back door feed, one that was made by Jujhar Khaira, but not before Stanwood stoned them on the exact same play minutes earlier. The Spruce Kings continued to fire pucks on the Smokies goaltender throughout the period, many of them quality chances. Ty Swabb was not tested on much on the other hand, having to stop 7 shots.

The Second Period is where the Spruce Kings broke the play wide open, and were finally able to solve Stanwood more than once. Prince George was robbed on multiple occasions in the second, but Leo Fitzgerald made it 2-0, firing home a cross ice pass from his brother Myles. Chase Golightly would add a third marker, a shot that eventually went in off the body of a Smoke Eater. Stanwood faced another 13 shots in the period, but once again, he made a handful of saves that could make any highlight real.

The third period started off with a bang for Trail, as former Spruce King Connor Tiechko put a bouncing puck past Ty Swabb to end his shutout bid. It was a goal that seemed to spark the Smoke Eaters as Brent Baltus scored his 5th of the season, bringing his team within one. The Smokies had new life, and they were pressing hard to tie the game up. The Spruce Kings were back on their heels, and needed to find a way to get another puck past Stanwood quickly before the momentum completely shifted. It would take 8 minutes, but finally Prince George's top line was able to put the icing on the cake as Paul De Jersey scored his 27th of the season. Jujhar Khaira would add a fifth insurance marker, one that ultimately wouldn't be needed as the Smoke Eaters wouldn't score again, giving the Spruce Kings a 5-2 win

The win gives Prince George 39 points through 35 games, helping them keep their fourth place spot in the Interior Conference standings. Vernon won tonight as well, meaning they still sit in fifth place, 2 points behind the Spruce Kings

Click here to view the entire league standings

Click here to view tonight's box score

The Three Stars:

3)(PG)Chase Golightly – 1 Goal 1 Assist
2)(PG)Jujhar Khaira – 1 Goal 2 Assists
1)(TRL)Lyndon Stanwood – 43 Saves

Next Up:

The Spruce Kings now have a 5 day break and will next suit up Thursday January 5th and 6th at the Castle against Westside. Until then, we hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year celebration

Smoke in the Castle

Gerry Fitzgerald (21) and the rest of the Spruce Kings
will be looking to pull away to end 2011 and head into 2012

Tonight marks the end of the calendar year for the Spruce Kings as they play their final game of 2011 against the Trail Smoke Eaters. This game is an important one for the psyche of both teams ... being able to end the year on a positive note will provide the confidence required to start 2012 when the games start to heat up.

These two teams haven't seen each other except for an early season double header in the Coliseum back in the middle of October. At the time the season was young but there were signs that the Smoke Eaters were having some difficulties while the Spruce Kings were busy trying the erase the memory of a disappointing season the previous year. The Spruce Kings won both games 8-0 and 5-2. This is third and final time that the Smoke Eaters will come to Prince George this season; the Spruce Kings have two double headers in Trail in the New Year (February 10 & 11 and March 2 & 3).

For the Spruce Kings, 2011 started with the promise that things were going to get better for a team that had struggled in the first half of the season. And for the most part they were a much better team fighting right down to the wire for a playoff spot that eluded them because the hole was just too deep that had been dug. This year it is the Trail Smoke Eaters that are in that same position and will be looking to build for the future one game at a time.

This is the first game back after the Christmas Break for the Trail Smoke Eaters; despite their record, they will be coming in as unknown. In their final weekend before the break the Smoke Eaters were outscored 15-1 leaving the team with lots of time on their hands to evaluate their position. As is the case with most extended breaks (almost a full two weeks for Trail), the little aches and pains go away and the desire to compete comes back. If the Smoke Eaters used some of that time to skate, they could be a very dangerous opponent tonight and one that the Spruce Kings certainly can't take for granted.

The Spruce Kings have already played one game since the Christmas Break, a 4-2 win over the Chilliwack Chiefs in Chilliwack. Prince George was full of jump and was able to get shots and lots of them through to the goaltender, but the best player on the ice was not suffering from any turkey hangover as he turned away all 29 shots he faced in the first two periods. The Spruce Kings were finally able to break through the armour led by Michael Colantone's natural hattrick and then after the Chiefs pulled to within one it was De Jersey who put the game away scoring his 27th of the season to reclaim the lead atop the League's scoring machines.

The win gave the Spruce Kings sole possession of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Interior Conference and last night the Salmon Arm Silverbacks provided a late gift defeating the Vernon Vipers 7-4 to keep them two points back of Prince George. The Vernon Vipers also play tonight and have two games in hand on the Spruce Kings so a win tonight is essential for Prince George to maintain some distance ahead of the three time defending BCHL Champions.

Over the month of December the goals against average for the Spruce Kings net protectors has come down from 3.56 to 3.24 thanks in part to a deal made by Mike Hawes at the beginning of the month that brought Ty Swabb over from the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Since arriving in PG, Swabb has played in five games with a record of 3 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie. To go along with the 7 points, Swabb has a goals against average of 2.50 (6th in the League) and the second best save percentage of .926 as measured for goalies having played in four or more games.

Offensively things could be a little better as the team has been in a number of one goal games and haven't been able to deliver those decisive blows on the scoreboard. Through nine games in the month of December, the Spruce Kings have scored 27 times and been scored on 21 times. Six of the nine games were decided by a single goal or less and their biggest goal spread was a 4-1 decision over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

The Spruce Kings have been getting offensive production from the top line of Paul De Jersey, Jujhar Khaira and Michael Colantone but will need to see some more scoring from the other lines. The defense has also been stepping up and delivering timely goals but as the intensity on the ice heats up, they will have to make sure their end is looked after first and foremost. De Jersey is on a 17 game points streak (11G, 19A). Since coming back with a gold medal at the 2011 WJAC, Khaira has climbed back into the League's Top Ten with 7 goals and 13 assists. Colantone has also worked his way back up the list and currently sits in 12th spot thanks to a big three goal night against the Chilliwack Chiefs (trivia buffs will like to know that this is Michael's second BCHL hat trick, his other one was against the Spruce Kings on December 4, 2010 when he scored three times and also had three asssists).

Since coming to the Spruce Kings, Michael Betz has picked up a pair of goals and added a pair of helpers to his cause, not quite the numbers he was hoping to put up but the contribution is there and his natural ability has been showing through every game. December hasn't been kind to the Fitzgerald triplets either despite their tenacious approach to the game and the scoring chances they have created. The three have combined on only three goals, something they and the coaching staff both know only need a small spark to change.

Through all of that the Spruce Kings have fought hard in every game and have a chance to end December with a record of 6-3-1-0 which is an indication of just how far they have come in a year. This will be the 52nd game the team has played in 2011 and through the good, the bad and the ugly that was 2011 they have a chance to finish on a huge positive and come out of the year with a record of 22-20-3-7 and take a record of 17-13-2-3 this season with them into 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

They're Back!!!

To quote Whitesnake, Here we go again! The BCHL season is back underway after the players were given a break to be with family during the Christmas Holiday's. Now, the second half of the season begins, and every game becomes so much more important than before. The Spruce Kings come into tonight's match up tied for fourth in the Interior Conference, but they have played two more games than Vernon, who have 35 points this season. The team sitting in third place, is the team they will face tonight. A win, and they move within a couple points and continue to stay in the race for the playoffs. A loss, and they'll start to dig themselves into a hole that may become to much to overcome. Still lots of hockey left to be played, but these are games you must win. So let's preview the match up between the Chilling Chiefs and your Prince George Spruce Kings

The Break Down:

These two squads have battle three times this season, with every game being decided by just one goal. The last meeting was just two weeks ago, a game that was won by Prince George 3-2 in overtime. It was the first win this season over the Chiefs, and helped capture some momentum they hope to use in tonight's contest. The first two games were just as close as the third, but it was the Chiefs who got the lucky bounces and skated away with the wins. The games have all been evenly matched, and you can bet that tonight will be no different.

Kirk Thompson got the start in the first two games, but it was the Spruce Kings new goaltender who captured the teams first win over the Chiefs. Ty Swabb made 39 saves on December 16th behind Jujhar Khaira's 3 point effort and Gerry Fitzgerald's Overtime snipe helped lead the team to victory. You can bet they'll need the same type of effort tonight to get their second win in a row over Chilliwack.

The Stats:

After the first half of the season behind us, let's take a look back at who has helped their respective teams get where they are so far.

Paul De Jersey has had a break out season, potting 26 goals with 31 assists, good enough for 4th in league scoring. His line mates Jujhar Khaira and Michael Colantone currently sit in 13th and 14th respectively as these three are recognized as one of the top lines in the league.

The Chilliwack Chiefs have just one man in the top 20 so far, as Derek Huisman has 18 goals with 39 points. They do however have two other players who currently sit above the 1 point per game average. It should also be noted that the Chiefs have one of the top goaltenders in the league this year statistics wise. Rookie Mitch Gillam sits in 6th for wins, 8th in GAA and 6th in save percentage. Look for Gillam to get the start tonight after the extended break.

Game Time:

The pucks drops tonight at the Prospera Centre at 7:00pm. You can watch the game live with the BCHL webcast here. Don't forget that the Spruce Kings will have their next home game this Friday at 7:00pm as they will take on the Trail Smoke Eaters. Go Spruce Kings

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The West Coast Road Swing Continues Tonight

The Spruce Kings are coming off of a HUGE win last night in Chilliwack as they downed the Chiefs 3-2 in overtime. The win helped the Spruce Kings stay in the close hunt for that 4th and final playoff spot. But they don';t have much time to celebrate, as they have traveled to Langley for a battled with the newly named Rivermen tonight. This will be the first and only meeting between these two clubs this season, so it should be a good one. Let's preview the match up now, between your Spruce Kings and the Rivermen of Langley.

The Breakdown:

The Spruce Kings have had an up and down season when it comes to wins, but compared to last season, it has been a brilliant turn around. With last night's win Chilliwack, Prince George as already tied their point total from last season. It's a stat that will make the players and management happy, but it won't too much to them if they can't find their way back into the post season. Both teams have had a rough going lately, posting identical 4-4-1-1 records through their past ten games. But only the Spruce Kings head to the Langley Events Centre with a win in their back pocket from last night.

As mentioned above, Karan Toor played hero in a 3-2 victory over rival Chilliwack in Overtime. The Rivermen though, were embarrassed at home, losing a 5-0 game to Powell River. Often times you see teams strike back hard after a bad loss, and look for redemption. It becomes the Spruce Kings coaches jobs to come up with a counter attack to halt a push back form the Rivermen.

With these two squads playing in different Conferences, they don't meet very often on the schedule. They played only twice last season, with Langley taking both “W's”. One came in only the second game of the season, at The Castle, a 6-3 decision. The other happen at the Langley Events Centre a few months later, but the result was much more one sided, as the Rivermen downed PG 8-2. This will be the only meeting this season between the two, so it will be interesting to see the game plans drawn up, and what kind of game we will see.

The stat of the day as we get set for the puck drop, The Langley Rivermen have the second fewest goals in the BCHL with just 88. Compare that to the Spruce Kings who have the 6th most. So if the Spruce Kings want to make this a statement game, I'm thinking the key is score early and score often.

To check out full standings and stats before tonight’s game, click here

Game Time:

The Spruce Kings continue their West Coast swing tonight at the Langley Events Centre with the puck dropping at 7:00pm. It'll be their second game in as many nights, with their third being tomorrow being in Surrey at 4pm. Be sure to check out the web cast of tonight's game here

Go Spruce Kings

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Midway Mark with Mike Hawes

Earlier in the week I caught up with the Spruce Kings General Manager to talk about what has been and what will be for the team as they move into the second half of the season. The original interview was interrupted by the news that the League had received a request for supplementary discipline for Trevor Esau on a hit in game number 29 of the season. The hit itself did not result in a penalty call from the game's official but did result in the Spruce Kings, specifically Esau, tying the game up at 3; which was ultimately how the game finished. For comments from Mike Hawes, see the previous post here on the Spruce Kings Crusader.

The conversation then turned to where it was originally intended to go and that was to discuss the first thirty games that are now in the books and to look ahead at the next thirty games in the team's 40th anniversary season. To date this has been one of the team's more successful outings in the BCHL, but as you will hear, there is room for improvement. With a record that places the team tied for the fourth and final playoff position there is a sense that things are looking up for the team. Conversely, a closer look at some recent games reveals an unsettling trend of games being decided by a single goal and most of them not in the Spruce Kings favour.

With the exception of Game 30, a 4-1 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, the Spruce Kings previous seven games were all one goal games with the common theme being a 3-2 decision. In those seven games the Spruce Kings posted a record of 1-4-1-1 and the game against the Silverbacks was the first time Prince George scored more than three goals in a game going back to November 13th. All in all the team still has 31 points in 30 games with a record of 13-12-2-3. This first part of the interview starts with Mike answering the question of whether or not he is happy with a better than .500 record heading into the second half of the season.

download audio file

So with the future looking bright but definitely hanging on the shoulders of the players, we turned our attention to the games that still need to be played in this season. Interestingly enough the Spruce Kings has played their season series against the Merritt Centennials and won't be seeing them anymore. That leaves the Westside Warriors and the Chilliwack Chiefs to make up a larger portion of the remaining games. We talked about that but also talked about the three games that need to be played out before the Christmas break and the fact that Trevor Esau will be missing in the first two of those three this weekend.

Perhaps one of the most disappointing aspects of the immediate games to be played is that Esau will be sidelined for the two games played in his back yard. On Friday night a large group of family and friends were expected to attend the game in Chilliwack to watch "Easy" play and deliver the hard hits that have been coming with more frequency.

download audio file

On a side note, the Spruce Kings will have two AP'ed defenceman in the lineup Friday night with Latrell Charleson seeing his first action with the Spruce Kings and Karan Toor getting into the lineup for a tenth time. Charleson is with the Valley West Hawks of the BC Major Midget League and was signed to an AP card earlier this week. At 16 years of age, Charleson is grabbing the attention of scouts and not just for his impressive size - he stands 6'4" and is 220lbs and can pack a wallop. Toor is expected to be in the lineup for all three games; he has been showing an ability to play on the backend that the coaching staff appreciates, hence the extra callups.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Esau Suspended Two Games

With the Spruce Kings just passing the midway mark of the season with 30 games done and 30 games to go, I thought I would catch up with the General Manager and get his thoughts on the team. My interview was set back a little bit as Mike Hawes was dealing with the League and their ruling that a Trevor Esau hit on Saturday night December 10th in Westside warranted a two game suspension. The hit in question was not penalized on the ice and led to a turnover and Esau scoring the game tying goal against the Warriors.

As part of the mid-season interview, I asked Mike about his take on the hit and subsequent suspension. What follows is that portion of the interview and then the video of the hit as posted on You Tube.

download audio file

There you have the video and the comments of the Warriors broadcaster, Jon Zacks along with the thoughts of Spruce Kings General Manager, Mike Hawes. I'm sure you have your thoughts, I know I do, and I encourage you to use the comment section below to share them.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Game Two of Three in a Row

The Spruce Kings are starting a three week road swing tonight, and they are doing so in Westside. These two teams battled last weekend in a back to back series at the Castle. Each team came away with a “W”, but the Warriors still hold the lead in the season series 2-1. The Spruce Kings will play their second game in as many nights, and will also have to remember they'll have an even quicker turn around tomorrow afternoon. But let's focus on the game at hand and preview what is another important match up with an Interior Conference rival. It's the Westside Warriors hosting your Prince George Spruce Kings:

The Set Up:

As mentioned, these two have battle three times this season, two of them being last weekend, and one being back in October. That game back near the start of the season happened in Westside as the Warriors skated to a 6-2 victory over the Spruce Kings. Marcus Beesley got the start in goal, as Paul De Jersey and Leo Fitzgerald were the only goal scorers for Prince George. The Warriors powered their victory off of 2 goals scored in each of the three periods. Tyler Krause scored a couple as did Richard Vanderhoek, and that was enough to send Prince George home wondering what happened. Last weekends set of games saw each team win by just a goal. Both games were physical and close, and I’d expect more of the same tonight.

The Spruce Kings need to start stringing wins together here in December as teams like Merritt and Chilliwack are pulling away form the pack and making the battle for fourth place a close one. Vernon currently sits in fourth place with 31 points. Prince George sits in 5th with 28 points while Salmon Arm and Westside are in 6th and 7th with 25 points. The Spruce Kings have been on the wrong side of too many 1 goal losses, and soon, it's going to come back to haunt them. A win tonight, and they'll continue to keep Westside in the bottom of the pack while bringing themselves closer to catching Vernon

Last Night:

Both teams played last night, both being homes games. As you know, the Spruce Kings dropped a 4-3 decision to the Centennials. Ty Swabb got the start in net again, making 24 saves for his first loss. It's not known if he will be getting the start tonight or not. Westside was able to control the Vernon Vipers throughout their contest, and sent them home after beating them 5-2. Connor Dempsey scored twice to receive first star honors as Dwayne Rodrigue picked up the win. Chances are, Rodrigue will see action once again tonight against Prince George

Game Time:

The puck will drop at Royal Lepage place at 7pm tonight. To watch the web cast of tonight's contest, click here

Friday, December 9, 2011

Another Battle With The Centennials

Prince George is getting set to host the Centennials yet again tonight. It is quickly becoming the Spruce Kings biggest in division rivalry, thanks in large part due to the fact that these two have already squared off six times this season. The two squads have each won three games, but tonight, one team will look to grab hold of the lead in the season series. The games have all been competitive and fast paced, and we really shouldn’t expect anything less tonight. So let’s preview the seventh game between the Merritt Centennials and your Prince George Spruce Kings:

The Break Down:

These two squads know each other quite well, having played multiple times this season. They started off their seasons against one another in a back to back weekend at the Coliseum. The Spruce Kings won both of those games, but only were able to take one out of the next four match ups. The most recent time fans have been able to see these two play, was the BCHL celebration weekend, where the Centennials beat PG at home, then took them out in Overtime in their own home barn. It was a couple of games that showcased the physical dislike these two teams have for one another. IN the new BCHL, with the new playoff format, every night and every point becomes that much more important. Only four teams will play more than 60 games, and right now only Merritt would make it if the season ended today. Divisional games have never been more important than they are this year, and with the series tied at three games a piece, you can bet that both coaches have prepped their boys for an all out war tonight.

Although Prince George hasn’t faired as well against Merritt as they did at start of the season, they do have one big thing on their side tonight, their fans! The Spruce Kings are tied for the second most home wins in the BCHL. Home ice advantage is always nice, and the boys have definitely benefited from having the Prince George faithfully chant their names this season. On the other side Merritt has battled this season on the road, and they come into the Castle sporting a 6-6 -2-1 record. Though it should be added again, the last time these two battled in Prince George, Merritt was able to skate away with the “W”.

Who’s Hot:

The Spruce Kings top line of Jujhar Khaira, Paul De Jersey and Michael Colantone continues to impress and put up points. Shutting these three down becomes essential for any team that plays Prince George. The Spruce Kings two newest players come into tonight’s contest having impressed last weekend. Michael Betz scored his first as a King, and had a stellar night on the ice. Ty Swabb also recorded his first win as a Spruce Kings last Sunday, and will likely look to carry that momentum into tonight.

Also earlier this week a couple of Centennials and Spruce King players made the NHL draft watch list. Prince George forward Jujhar Khaira and Merritt defenseman Reece Wilcox made the list along with six other BCHLers. A big congrats goes to all the boys as they look to be drafted this season

Game Time:

Tonight’s match up will have the usual start time of 7pm at the Coliseum. It’s also the “Drop your gloves and sock it to em” night at the Castle. Bring some new gloves, socks, toques etc in a bag, and when the Spruce kings score their first goal, toss the bags onto the ice. Hope to see you at the rink, go Spruce Kings

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Another One Goal Loss...

Westside came into the Castle having lost nine of their past 10. The Spruce Kings came in having lost their past three. After it was all said and done, Westside would skate away with the Win. The Warriors had an abysmal November, losing eight of nine. They started off December with a loss, but tonight, they were not going to lay down and die. The Spruce Kings didn't have as long of a losing streak, but losing three games in a row by 1 goal, isn't fun. It's a streak that continued tonight, as they dropped a 3-2 decision to Westside. It was a very entertaining game, but only one team skated away smiling.

The Break Down:

The first started off as most do, back and forth puck movement, a few chances, but no real scoring opportunities. But at the 8:48 mark, the Spruce Kings top line struck again, as Michael Colantone fired a wrister top corner on Dwayne Rodrigue to open the scoring. Ben Woodley and Paul De Jersey add the assists on the goal. The Warriors didn’t take long to tie the game up, as they took advantage off a miscue by the Spruce Kings defender and tied the game up. Brett Mckinnon was left alone out front, took a feed and one timed it past Kirk Thompson. That's where things left off heading into the intermission.

The second period would prove to be the eventual difference maker as the Warriors would score 2 goals just over a minute apart. Max French would start it off by sending a puck on net from the top of the right circle that fooled Thompson. The Prince George net minder reached out for it, and just plain missed it. Then 1:04 later, Richard Vanderhoek took a pass on a two on one and scored on a wide open net. It was a quick turn around for the Warriors of Westside, and it would prove to be too much to over come

The Spruce Kings would apply a ton of pressure in the third, thanks in large part to the a five minute power play handed to them after Garrett Skrbich was sent to the showers early for charging Kirk Thompson. Thompson would lay on the ice for a moment, before getting up under his own power to stay in the game. Jujhar Khaira would make them pay quickly, just 8 seconds into the major, he fired a shot from the top of the right circle that found it's way past Rodrigue. It was a quick strike, that gave hope to the Prince George faithful going forward with seven minutes to go. One of the turning points in the game would come during the five minute power play, when the Spruce Kings were called for too many men on the ice. It still left them with time to work with, but it essentially killed off the momentum that they had just gained.

The Spruce Kings would press, but Rodrigue held down the fort, and helped his team skate to a 3-2 victory. Rodrigue made 22 saves in the game, taking home the “W”. Thompson would be given the loss, as he made 25 saves in defeat.

The game was a very good one, but ultimately it ends up being yet another 1 goal loss for the Spruce Kings. This was Prince George's fourth 1 goal game in a row that they end up on the wrong side of. It's a tough pill to swallow, and one that leaves Coach Dave Dumas and his squad wondering what they have to do to end up on the right side of things. There were a couple of different turning points for me in tonight’s contest. One came in the second period, during Prince George's first power play. Jujhar Khaira made a backdoor feed to Paul De Jersey who had a good amount of net to look at. Rodrigue though was not wiling to let up easy, as he slip across his crease and made a split leg toe save. It was a save that may not have been noticed by many, but at the time, it kept the game all tied up. The other turning point for me came during the Max French 2-1 goal. It was a shot that Thompson should have saved, and one he would make if given another try. But unfortunately, these things happen, he missed the puck and gave all the momentum to Westside going forward.

To read the full box score and get a recap in scoring from tonight, click here

The Three Stars:

3)(WW) Richard Vanderhoek – 1 Goal, GWG

2)(PG) Gerry Fitzgerald

1)(WW) Max French – 1 Goal

Next Up:

These two teams will battle once again at the Coliseum tomorrow afternoon. This game becomes eve bigger for the Spruce Kings, as they hope to re-establish their 6 point lead on the Warriors in the standings. Tonight’s game was a good one, so be sure not to miss the rematch tomorrow as the puck drops at 3pm

The Spruce Kings Entertain the Warriors of Westside

The Spruce Kings will look to get back into the win column as they host the Westside Warriors tonight and tomorrow afternoon. Prince George enters tonight's contest having dropped their last three games, all to division rivals. All three have been decided by just a goal, but you can bet that that isn't a good consolation prize for the Spruce Kings players and coaches. Tonight will feature the first time the Westside Warriors have been in Prince George since the pre season. It's a big 4 points for both teams, so let's preview the match up to see who has the upper hand on paper:

The Breakdown:

The Westide Warriors came out of the gates flying to start the season, winning their first five games. But November was a much more cruel beast to the Warriors of Westside. They only managed to win one game in November, while losing eight. December hasn't started out any better for the Warriors, as they dropped a 7-2 decision to the Penticton Vees last night. There is a big upside for the Warriors though, as they have a few high flying players returning to the line up for them in Max French and Brennan Clark. Plus with the addition of former Vernon Viper Marcus Barasa, the Warriors are poised to return to the win column, and should not be looked at as a team that comes in having lost nine of their past ten. As we know all to well, momentum is everything in hockey, and if the Spruce Kings let Westisde run out of here with 4 points, it could wake up a very dangerous beast.

As mentioned, the Spruce Kings have lost three in a row heading into tonight. The losing streak did come off the back end of a four game winning streak, but in the competitive Interior Conference and with the new playoff format, losing three games to division rivals just can't happen. The Spruce Kings would love to be able to help put the Warriors deeper in the standings this weekend. The two teams are separated by 6 points, meaning if Westside can come away with 2 wins this weekend, it will go a long way in helping them vault back into the 4th playoff spot. But, on the other side of things, If Prince George can take down the Warriors on both Saturday and Sunday, it would go a long way in helping push Westside even further beneath them.

This Season:

These two teams have met just once this year in the regular season, a 6-2 win for Westside at home. They still have 6 meetings this season to decide who is the better of the two, with three of them happening in December. It should be noted that they did also meet in pre season action back in September, Westside won that contest as well, 3-1.

New Faces:

The Spruce Kings have added a few new faces to their roster this week. Former AJHL goaltender Ty Swabb was picked up by the team via trade that saw Stefan Bazar head to the St. Albert Steel. Also coming to the Spruce Kings organization, the hulking forward Michael Betz. Betz is a 6'2 forward who has spent time in the BCHL with the Trail Smoke Eaters and the Penticton Vees. Unfortunately while adding players, Prince George had to let a few move on to make some room for the new guys. As it has been stated, the organization and it's fans would like to thank Spencer and Scott Mchaffie, Stefan Bazar and Marcus Beesley who all were reassigned or traded this past week.

Game Time:

The puck will drop on tonight's contest at 7pm at the Castle. Then tomorrow, these two teams will go at it again, this time with an afternoon start of 3pm. Both games will be broadcast on the live web cast here. You can also listen to the FREE audio broadcast of the games here

Go Spruce Kings

Thursday, December 1, 2011

An Unfortunate End Halts An Entertaining Game

Tonight, Prince George got to witness a great hockey game. Unfortunately, they also got to witness a weird ending that slowed the game right down. All night these two teams battled back and forth, exchanging chances and hits. It was a match up of two very evenly ranked teams, and it looked like we would need an extra frame to decide things. As it turned out, we wouldn't end up seeing overtime, but we would see the game end in controversy. With that in mind, let's recap tonight's 3-2 loss to the Chilliwack Chiefs.

The Breakdown:

The first period started out with a bang for the Chiefs, as their leading scorer David Bondra intercepted a pass, moved in and fired a shot pasta slightly screened Kirk Thompson. The goal came at 3:13 mark, and quickly showed that the Chiefs had no bus rust from he trip to Prince George. The Spruce Kings were not prepared to lay down that earlier though, as Michael Colantone took a nice pass from Jujhar Khaira, and scored on a brief breakaway attempt at the 7:19 mark. Prince George would follow that up with a power play goal from Tyson Witala at the 16:20 mark. They would take that 2-1 lead into the break.

The first half of the second period was all Prince George, as they were firing all sorts of shots on Mitch Gillam. Prince George would get a few more power play opportunities, but couldn't put another puck past the Chiefs goaltender. Chilliwack would reward there goaltenders fine play with a tally, as David Thompson got a lucky bounce off of Ben Woodley's leg and tied the game up at 2. Derek Huisman would get the only assist on the play as Chilliwack snatched back the momentum that Prince George was seeming to carry into the intermission with. The Spruce Kings had all sorts of chances, but not burying them in the second would prove to be a huge difference maker.

The third period was more of the same from these two talented squads. Back and forth action, big hits, and nice scoring chances. The eventual game winner came at the 11:40 mark as Trevor Hills threw a puck on net from the corner, and ended up beating Thompson. The goal didn't come without some controversy though, as Thompson appeared to have it squeezed against the post, the referring looked as though he was going to signal it dead, then the goal light came on. The Spruce Kings argued the call, but it was to no avail as the tally would count. The game would end with that score, but not before some more controversy and rough stuff over flowed onto the ice.

As time was winding down Paul De Jersey seemed to be jumped behind the play by David Thompson. Thompson stood over a turtled De Jersey and tried to pound on him before the ref jumped in. Colantone ended up without his gloves on after the brief scrum, both teams exchanged words, and then it was up to the referees to decide what would happen next. As it turned out, they decided to give most roughing minors, and tossed Ben Woodley for unsportsmanlike conduct. So with just 14 seconds left, the Spruce Kings were forced deep into their own zone, making it too much to over come. It was a weird scenario considering De Jersey was the one who was being held down and punched. The newly crowned Captain Ben Matthews didn't let the game end without sticking up for his teammates. He would dropped the gloves with Shay Laurent, dropping him in the process with a right to the nose, essentially giving his team a small piece of gratification to go home with. Gillam would get the win, making 33 saves in the 3-2 victory for the Chiefs.

It was an unfortunate end to what was a great hockey game. Prince George had their chances to win, but ultimately couldn't solve Gillam after the first period.

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

The Three Stars:

3)(PG) Tyson Witala – 1 Goal
2)(CHW)David Bondra -1 Goal, 1 Assist
1)(CHW)Mitch Gillam – 33 Saves

Next Up:

The Spruce Kings will head into the weekend having lost 3 in a row. They will have another chance though to set the tone going forward as they host the Westside Warriors on Saturday and Sunday
Saturday the puck drops at 7pm, and Sunday at 3pm. Once again, both games will take place at the Castle.