Thursday, August 30, 2012

Preseason Test in Grande Prairie

Congratulations all around following a 4-0
preseason win over the Trail Smoke Eaters

The Prince George Spruce Kings are getting a solid taste of life on the road this week. After a drive down to Chase, BC for a pair of preseason games against the Trail Smoke Eaters, the team arrived home Thursday morning. Now a day later the team will be boarding the team's new bus and heading North to cross over the BC/Alberta border for a preseason game against the Grande Prairie Storm.

Friday night's game is the first half of a home-and-home with the Alberta Junior Hockey League team. On Saturday night the two teams will meet in the Castle for the Spruce Kings final preseason tuneup at 7pm. After the weekend the team will have to be down to their 22 man roster in time for the start of the BCHL regular season and a pair of games at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack during the weekend of September 7th to 9th.

The Spruce Kings are coming off a pair of preseason wins (2-1 and 4-0) over the Trail Smoke Eaters and are anxious to put themselves to the test against a respected team from the Northern Division of the AJHL. The Storm are coming off a disappointing season in 2011-12 but have done a lot to put themselves back near the top, where they are accustomed to, this season.

At the time of this blog, I did not have a roster from Grande Prairie so I don't have any confirmation as to who might or might not be in the line up for the Storm on Friday or Saturday night. Instead I'll give you a couple of player's names and tell you what I little I know about them starting with Gus Correale. Gus is the younger brother of Spruce Kings alumni Dan Correale who played in Prince George during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons before being traded to the Storm.

Two season later in 2010-11, Dan and Gus played together under Mike Vandekamp. Last year Dan played out his 20 year old season in Nanaimo while the younger Gus played his second season in Grande Prairie picking up 16 goals and 22 assists. This year Gus is will be an 18 year old (birthday Sept 29, 1993) and is also expected to have an even better year than last.

Adam Boytinck has played in the BCHL with the Trail Smoke Eaters before ending up in Grande Prairie at the 2011 trade deadline. Before crossing the border, Boytinck had a record of 8 goals and 17 assists in 64 games over two seasons in Trail. The twenty year old isn't expected to put up big numbers but another twenty year old is. Tanner Labbe was a 40 point forward last season doubling his numbers from his rookie season. A little smaller at 5' 10" Labbe is more suited for the speed of the game at the Junior A level.

Braden Crone is another player that with a slight improvement on the consistency that he showed last season could end up leading the team in scoring this year. Crone is a 19 year old (birthday Oct 9, 1993) in this third season with the Grande Prairie Storm.

There are three goaltenders with the Grande Prairie Storm with Curtis Skip the only one currently carded. David Readman has ties to Prince George having played two seasons with the BCMML Cariboo Cougars. Last season in 25 games, Readman had a goals against average of 2.86 with the Major Midget Cats. The other goaltender on a tryout with the Grande Prairie Storm is Nicholas Kulmanovsky from Fairbanks Alaska. This is Kulmanovsky's first Canadian team having played in previous season with the Alaska Avalance and Wentachee Wild of the NAHL where he posted consistent numbers of 90% save percentage and better than 2.8 goals against average.

As for the Prince George Spruce Kings, they are down to a 24 man roster meaning that there are only two more mandatory cuts to be made before the start of the regular season. This is where these preseason games becomes so important and the individual play on the ice looked at under a microscope. I certainly wouldn't want to be the one tasked with making those final two cuts, but one thing is for sure ... everybody left has earned their look this weekend and have shown that they are capable of playing for the Prince George Spruce Kings and Junior A hockey in the BCHL.

I have enjoyed watching all of the new players with the team this year and can't wait for you to get same opportunity to see them. That chance comes up on Saturday night in the Prince George Coliseum, but if you can't wait until then you can try watching the broadcast of the game from the Canada Games Arena in Grande Prairie Friday night. Because the game is being played at 7:30pm in Alberta, the game will actually start at 6:30pm back home.

The game is scheduled to be broadcast with video and audio on the Spruce Kings Ustream Channel which is a free service with a few annoyances that are out of our control. If you choose to log on using your Facebook account, the commercial content that is aired from the Ustream servers will be significantly reduced. Plus you will have the opportunity of chatting with other viewers of the game.

Preseason Roster (as of August 30th)

G - Liam McLeod (96)
G - Kirk Thompson (92)
D - Latrell Charleson (95)
D - Mitch Eden (94)
D - Trevor Esau (92)
D - David London (93)
D - Skylar Pacehco (94)
D - Brad Ryan (92)
D - Spencer Schoech (93)
D - Karan Toor (94)
F - Liam Board (93)
F - Alec Butcher (94)
F - Bryant Christian (93)
F - Kody Disher (95)
F - Tanner Fjellstrom (94)
F - Coltyn Hansen (92)
F - Ryan Keis (94)
F - Sean Landrey (93)
F - Cam Lawson (93)
F - Jake LeBrun (95)
F - Jeremiah Luedtke (94)
F - Lyndon Martell (93)
F - Chad Staley (94)
F - Tyson Witala (93)

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