|Myles Fitzgerald celebrates his goal against the Vees|
Where do you start when there is just so much happening right now?
I'm gonna start with the ending ... the ending of an unbelievable winning streak in front of a packed house of loud and proud fans. It was absolutely amazing to witness first hand the passion of hockey fans in Prince George consuming the Castle on Saturday night. The Penticton Vees brought the absolute best out in the Spruce Kings, their fans and the City of Prince George as a whole.
Leading up to the weekend double header there was an undeniable buzz of people talking about the Spruce Kings. The team and its players were featured on all the media outlets, they were the subject of coffee shop conversation and water cooler banter. The four locations of Save On Foods took so far as to place a friendly wager that the Vees impressive run would end in Prince George. We now know it did of course in dramatic fashion in front of a third consecutive sell out at the Coliseum.
The friendly wager pitted the managers of the Save On Foods in Prince George and Penticton against each other in a believe that their teams could do the unimaginable. For Penticton that would be to set a North American record of 43 consecutive wins and for Prince George the task was to hand the Vees their first loss since November 5th, 2011. The losing managers would have to wear the other team's jersey for the whole week leading up to the playoffs. I'm still waiting for the picture of Rob Holowenko, Save On Foods Penticton manager, in a Spruce Kings jersey.
The games featured every aspect of the game of hockey that makes the sport an endearing one for every hockey fan. The talent and skill of both teams shone brightly throughout the weekend with fans being treated to highlight reel goals, big saves, end to end action and so much more. Heading into the final game of the regular season for both teams, there were three players in a fight to claim the BCHL scoring title. When the dust settled, Paul De Jersey and his three assists was the difference giving the Spruce Kings their first ever Brett Hull Trophy winner. De Jersey finished with a regular season point total of 98 (41 goals, 57 assists).
Three other Spruce Kings finished the season in the scoring race top twenty. Jujhar Khaira claimed 10th spot with 79 points (29 goals, 50 assists). Adding four goals and a pair of assists during the double header moved Michael Colantone up to 14th with 74 points (33 goals, 41 assists). Finishing the season with one more game than everyone else, Jarryd Ten Vaanholt's 14 goals and 12 assists with the Spruce Kings put him in that twentieth spot with a total of 67 points (31 goals, 36 assists). Ben Woodley (5 goals, 42 assists, 47 points) and Chase Golightly (6 goals, 37 assits, 43 points) put the blueliners in the top ten among the League's offensive defencemen. Kirk Thompson and Ty Swabb finished the regular season with identical numbers: 2.83 Goals Against Average and 90.6 Save Percentage, although Thompson played more minutes and appeared in more games than Swabb.
As the team was returning to the ice for some practice time in preparation for the playoffs, the League released its regular season trophy winners. Paul De Jersey was once again in the headlines for being named the winner of the Vern Dye Memorial Trophy as the Interior Division's Most Valuable Player. Still to come from the League is the naming of the All Star Team and the Fortis BC Fan Favourite survey winners.