Saturday, September 22, 2012

Spruce Kings, Centennials Fit To Be Tied

Tyson Witala (9) with the Spruce Kings best chance
to win the game in the second overtime

The Prince George Spruce Kings must love to play hockey, because they've sure done a lot of it early in this BCHL season.

For the third time in five starts the Spruce Kings went to overtime on Saturday night, this time settling for a 2-2 tie with the Merritt Centennials at the Coliseum.

Kirk Thompson was brilliant in net for Prince George, garnering his second straight first star honour, making 34 saves — including eight in extra time. A shoulder save off Regan Soquila in the dying minutes of the second overtime period was key as was a stop in the first OT when Soquila was on the doorstep.

The Spruce Kings had their own chances to get the winner in OT and collect the extra point. Chad Staley had the best opportunity in the first overtime, but Centennials goaltender Russell Sanderson was able to get a pad on his deflected shot.

Staley and Tyson Witala both had glorious scoring opportunities in the second overtime — Witala even had a breakaway — but neither could find the back of the net.

Special teams continued to play a big role for the Spruce Kings as they finished the night 1-for-7 on the power play and failed to capitalize on a two-man advantage for 1:15 in the third period.

The Centennials, who came into the game with the best power play in the league, showed why just 4:36 into the game when Brandon Bruce put a rebound past Thompson to open the scoring on the man advantage.

Prince George was slow out of the gate. It took the Spruce Kings just under seven minutes to register a shot on rookie Sanderson and the Centennials took an early 9-0 shot advantage.

Jeremiah Luedtke, who was in the penalty box when Bruce scored, got Prince George on the board at 13:19 coming up with the loose puck in the slot to bury it into a wide open cage. Justin Rai and Staley picked up the assists.

The Centennials restored their advantage just over a minute later when Jeff Wight took a feed from Brendan Lamont and beat Thompson at 14:41.

The Spruce Kings finally tied it up for good in the second period when Cameron Lawson scored on the power play. Lawson, who rung one off the cross bar moments earlier, took a pass from Lyndon Martell and buried the equalizer at 7:09. Coltyn Hansen also picked up an assist.

The Centennials outshot the Spruce Kings in each period and finished with a 36-26 advantage overall.

The Spruce Kings, now 3-0-1-1 on the year, wrapped up their first homestand of the season with a win, a tie and an overtime loss. They now head out on the road for six straight, first with visits to Vernon, Merritt and Penticton next weekend and then a trip to the Lower Mainland to play Surrey once and Langley twice.

The next home game isn't until Oct. 12 when Powell River comes to the Castle.

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