Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Win in the Express Lane

Coltyn Hansen (10) drives hard to the net
on the Spruce Kings first goal scored by Matthew Bissett

Who needs to carry a lead for the most of the game? Certainly not the Spruce Kings this past weekend when they posted a pair of wins with a combined lead time of 1:19. That time was posted on Saturday night when the Spruce Kings erased a 1-0 deficit early in the third period and then scored again late to capture two points in a 2-1 win over the Coquitlam Express.

Twenty four hours after posting a 5-4 win in overtime after answering four one goal deficits to the Langley Rivermen in a game they never led at all, the Spruce Kings were back at in Coquitlam against the 13th best team in the nation. The Express went with a fast paced game plan that seemed to catch the Spruce Kings by surprise and left them in their own end for much of the first half of the period.

The Spruce Kings would start to claw back with chances and shots as the period wore on but it would be another pressure attack by the Express that would open the scoring at exactly the 16 minute mark. The Express were able to force a turnover inside the Spruce Kings end while still setup on the attack. The puck came back to Beau Orser on the right point who stepped off the wall and snapped a rising shot through a screen in front of Kirk Thompson. The puck may have hit something on its way as it found the space between the shoulder and the cross bar to turn the goal light on.

Despite what the fanzone shows on the BCHL website, the shots were even after twenty minutes at 13 a-piece. In the second period the Spruce Kings were able to respond to the speed and passing of the Coquitlam Express and would start creating more quality scoring chances of their own. The best came midway through the second period when Coltyn Hansen burst in over the blue line and fired a shot labeled for the far side that Cole Huggins was just able to get a blocker on.

The second period would solve nothing and the teams would again return to the dressing rooms with the home team holding onto their 1-0 lead. Prince George would pick up in the third where they left off in the second period and it would be an unlikely player that would put the Spruce Kings on the board 95 seconds into the final frame.

With all the injuries on the Spruce Kings roster over the past couple of weeks, the team opted to go with an affiliate player in the lineup for Saturday's game. Matthew Bissett showed up fresh off a 4-2 win from the night before where he was instrumental scoring twice and adding an assist for the Ridge Meadow Flames. Bissett came in eager to go and showed promise early earning a regular shift with lots of ice time alongside Hansen and Ryan Keis.

In an amazing display of speed Hansen flew down the right side wall in front of both benches causing whiplash as the players turned their heads to watch the twenty year old turn an Express defenceman inside out as he cut hard to the net. Hansen was stopped on the play but the puck came out to the top of the crease for Bissett to snap home his first goal in the BCHL and pull the Spruce Kings even with their opponents.

The goal energized a bench that believes fully in themselves and despite so many setbacks have always shown a never give up approach on every shift. The Spruce Kings continued to pressure the Coquitlam Express who continued to get chances of their own only to be turned aside every time by Kirk Thompson.

One line that seemed to be getting chances but no luck on the night was the line of Cameron Lawson, Shayne Morrissey and Liam Board. The trio had glorious scoring opportunities and would have had multiple points each had it not been for sticks in the lanes and the iron goal posts. One night after the hockey gods redeemed Mitch Eden they came to game again this time for the top line.

Certainly nobody can say that the Spruce Kings don't work hard every shift and this shift was a perfect example of that as all three players worked at getting the puck to the net. Just before the puck was poked under Huggins, all three were within a stick length of the crease. The last player to touch it was Lawson who scored his eighth of the season at 18:41 giving the Spruce Kings their first lead of the game.

Most of the remaining 1:19 was played all on the Spruce Kings side of the ice. Having already learned the hard way that you don't ease up no matter how much or how little time remains on the clock, the Spruce Kings called a timeout after an icing just to give the players on the ice a breather and a reminder. Two more blocked shots later and the buzzer would sound and the Spruce Kings would skate away with the first set of two points against the Coquitlam Express.

The teams will play each other another seven times this season with the next matchup coming up in December when the Express come to Prince George for a double header on December 8th and 9th. The Spruce Kings will now turn their attention to a pair of games in the Coliseum this weekend starting with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Friday night followed by the West Kelowna Warriors on Saturday night.

On Friday night, fans will have a chance to win tickets to see Ceasar Milan in Prince George on November 11th and on Saturday night the Spruce Kings will be recognizing Women's Health and honouring Breast Cancer Awareness Month with their Pink in the Rink game. The Canadian Cancer Society will be on hand to share information and give out prizes and fans will have a chance to win more tickets to see Ceasar Milan as well as Charlie Daniels.

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