Saturday, September 1, 2012

Spruce Kings Finish Preseason

Kirk Thompson making a stop on the game's first star

Braden Crone scored twice as the Grande Prairie Storm completed a sweep of a home-and-home pre-season series against the Prince George Spruce Kings with a 5-2 win Saturday night at the Coliseum.

The loss evens the Spruce Kings' pre-season record at 2-2 as they now turn their attention to the opening of the regular season next weekend in Chilliwack.

Kody Disher and Liam Board had the goals for the Spruce Kings while Kirk Thompson took the loss in net.

In addition to the pair from Crone, Grande Prairie also got tallies from Jordan McTaggert, Ryan Matthews and Marc Drapeau. David Readman and Curtis Skip split the goaltending duties for the Storm.

The visitors got on the board first as McTaggert converted a turnover at the Spruce Kings' blue-line and wired a shot past Thompson just under five minutes into the game. Grande Prairie had the territorial edge early and looked poised to open an even bigger lead, similar to the 3-0 advantage they had in the first period in Friday night's contest. The Storm won that game 4-2.

The Spruce Kings found their legs in the middle part of the period and got back on even terms as Disher poked home a lose puck at the side of the net. Disher didn't have much of an angle to work with but he found a way to get the puck pass Readman.

The score was tied 1-1 after one period but the Storm took over in the decisive middle stanza, scoring three times. Matthews got things started with a power-play tally early in the period after Drapeau and Crone scored just over two minutes apart in the middle part of the frame, the Spruce Kings found themselves in a deep whole. Although Prince George generated some chances in the second half of the second, they weren't able to close the gap.

It could have been even worse as Thompson came up big to stop Crone on the breakaway, but the Storm still took a 4-1 lead into the second intermission. Board got Prince George back within two with a power-play goal with just over five minutes to go in the third, but that was as close as the Spruce Kings could get. Crone iced it for Grande Prairie with his second of the night with just over a minute to go in the game.

Among the bright spots for the Spruce Kings was the play of defenceman Mitch Eden, who was solid in his own zone and not afraid to join the rush.

The line of Chad Staley, Jeremiah Luedtke and Jake LeBrun had the most sustained offensive pressure for Prince George, but weren't able to connect at even strength. Both Tanner Fjellstrom and David London left the game with injuries.

The Spruce Kings open the regular season in Chilliwack next Saturday afternoon against Merritt as part of the BCHL showcase.

This article was submitted by Peter James

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