Going into the game, both teams talked about the playoff atmosphere they were anticipating. By the time the game came to a close, everyone was talking about the playoff atmosphere that we all just experienced. It was one of the best games we've seen this season at the Castle as the Spruce Kings topped the Chiefs 4-3 in overtime. The game was played in front of over 1000 Prince George faithful, all of which were rocking all night long. Although it didn't start out all roses for the Spruce Kings.
The first period started a way we hadn't seen yet this season, as Ben Woodley was in the box before the puck was even dropped. It was eventually announced that Woodley had left the ice too late after warm up and was accessed a minor. The Chiefs took full advantage of this, scoring 36 seconds in to take the early lead. Derek Huisman was given the official marker as he took a feed on top of Swabb and made no mistake. Prince George wasn't ready to lay down that easy though, as they carried the play soon after the goal and began pressing and challenging Chiefs goaltender Mitch Gillam. I took 10 minutes, but Michael Colantone eventually put home a Jarryd Ten Vaanholt pass on the power play to make it 1-1. The period would end that way with the shots 16-8 in favour of the Spruce Kings.
The second period didn't see any goals exchanged, but it did see plenty of fine end to end action. But the third period was a completely different story as the play and teams were blown wide open. Michael Colantone would score his second power play goal of the game to help the Spruce Kings take their first lead of the game. The Chiefs worked quickly though to end that, as Trevor Hills scored just 5 seconds later to make the game even once again. It would stay this way until the 9 minute mark as Jarryd Ten Vaanholt, the games eventual first star, scored Prince George's first even strength goal of the game. It would be Ten Vaanholt's 3rd point of the night as he was easily the best Spruce King skater.
Things would get even more wild with about 6 minutes left as Michael Colantone was hauled down on a short handed breakaway. The building was buzzing as Colantone stepped up at centre to take the penalty shot, but they would quickly be sat down as he lost control of the puck and Gillam made an easy save. 39 seconds later, the Spruce Kings fans would have even less to cheer about as Derek Huisman scored his 2nd of the night on the power play. Then, with 1:30 left in the period, Chiefs defencemen Matthew Hutchinson took a holding penalty to put the Kings a man up. They couldn't do anything with it during the 3rd, but they took that momentum with them into overtime.
After a quick break, both teams hit the ice, 4 Spruce Kings and 3 Chiefs. Pg would add a few chances, but the man advantage proved in affective for the first time in the game. Luckily for the 1056 in attendance, it didn't matter as Gerry Fitzgerald would send them home happy after redirecting home a Ben Matthews pass. It was a play that we dubbed in the booth “Tip, Tac, Toe” and it would help lift the Spruce Kings to victory, but more importantly give them 2 points more in the standings.
At the start of the contest, Todd and I talked about how we thought this had all the makings of for a “game of the year” candidate. Luckily for ourselves and the fans, that's exactly what we got. Both goaltenders made some fine saves with Gillam ending up facing 43 pucks. Both teams had some fancy work in the offensive zone and both threw their weight around. The bottom line, these are two very evenly matched teams across the board, and it's a treat to watch
To recap tonight's game with the official box score and to check out the Three Stars, click here
The Spruce Kings will now turn around and get set to host the Nanamio Clippers tomorrow night. The game is a big one for fans as the Spruce Kings and Save on Foods will be attempting to give away a truck during the second intermission. So make sure to get down to the Castle for 7pm. If you can't, then be sure to listen in with myself and Todd for FREE on our Ustream channel