|Spruce Kings will be looking to put recent adversities|
behind them for tonight's game vs the Langley Rivermen
It wasn't the prettiest ride into Langley, but the Spruce Kings are all in their weekend home base for a pair of games against the Langley Rivermen and the Coquitlam Express. While en route, the team bus was involved in an incident that saw it catch a soft shoulder and have the back end slip into the ditch. After a few tense moments and a soggy wait in the rain, the players were transported to their hotel and the bus to a shop.
Certainly that wasn't supposed to be the story heading into the fourth meeting of the season between these two teams. Come from behind wins and highlight reel goals should have provided the content of pregame speeches, interviews and conversations. Fans wondering if there would ever be a sense of rivalry between these two teams can rest assured that there is one shaping up nicely.
The very first meeting of the season was on the first weekend of the season when the two teams met at the BCHL Showcase. In that game the Spruce Kings had to erase a 3-0 Langley Rivermen lead in the second period and still overcome a 5-3 deficit in the third period to force overtime. In the extra frame, Lyndon Martell became the hero putting the winning goal into the back of the net to complete the come-from-behind win.
Two weekends ago, the Spruce Kings found themselves in the Langley Events Centre for the first time for a pair of games against the major tenants. In the first game, the Spruce Kings opened the scoring and also had a 2-1 lead in the third period. The Rivermen stormed back to win that game 3-2 with a pair of goals less than two minutes apart.
The trend of the team trailing for most of the game coming out on top appeared to be playing out in the Sunday afternoon matinee game. After the Rivermen built up a 3-0 lead, Brad Ryan was able to get one back before the end of the first. Then it would take a pair by Justin Rai less than a minute apart late in the third period to put the teams on even terms tied 3-3.
Unfortunately for Prince George, the time did not count down fast enough for the Spruce Kings to force overtime. Instead Austin Azurdia found just enough time to pick up the puck through the neutral zone, enter the Spruce Kings end and flip a shot into the back of the net. The goal came just before the end of regulation and the highlight video went viral showing up on TSN, ESPN and many other sports shows.
Since then the Spruce Kings showed that they had recovered, posting back-to-back wins over the Powell River Kings (2-1) and the Surrey Eagles (3-0). The pair of wins also earned Kirk Thompson top honours being named the Gong Show BCHL Player of the Week. The wins also came with some key players out of the lineup with Lyndon Martell, Trevor Esau and Tyson Witala joining Tanner Fjellstrom and David London on the injured list.
The injury woes continue for the Spruce Kings who will be without those five players again this weekend. To help with the short bench, the Spruce Kings will be looking to add a pair of affiliate players to the roster. Matthew Bissett from the Ridge Meadow Flames and Daniel Tait from the Richmond Sockeyes are set to don the Crown to help fill up the front end.
Bissett is currently leading the Flames with 4 goals and 4 assists in 9 games. In nine games with the Sockeyes, Tait has scored 7 goals and added 8 assists which is third best on the team. The APs are expected to play only one game each with Tait penciled in for Friday night versus the Rivermen and Bissett on Saturday night when the Spruce Kings take on the Coquitlam Express for the first time this season.
All things considered, the Spruce Kings have shown great resiliency this season and answered adversity well. This weekend will put the team to the test again after having dealt with the fallout of the highlight reel goal and now a few shaken nerves. The game gets underway at 7:15pm from the Langley Events Centre. Ron Gallo will have the call of the game on 93.1 CFIS-FM with free audio available online at www.cfisfm.com and the pay-per-view broadcast on Fasthockey.com.