Friday, October 19, 2012

Mitch Eden Scores Overtime Winner

Sean Landrey (18) heads over to start the celebration of
Mitch Eden's overtime winning goal vs the Langley Rivermen
photo courtesy Garrett James Photography

Call it a goal the hockey gods felt they owed Mitch Eden if you like, but for sure the goal changed things for the Spruce Kings on Friday night. In a game that the visitors never led in, it was Eden that buried the overtime winner giving the Spruce Kings a 5-4 victory over the Langley Rivermen.

The Spruce Kings found themselves down a goal four times on the night, answering back every time before finally skating away with the two points. The first goal came from Matt Ustaski just five minutes in giving the Rivermen their first lead of the game. That lead lasted 6:28 before Coltyn Hansen was given a gift and made no mistake burying his fourth of the season to tie the game 1-1 at 12:22.

The score and the shots were extremely close after twenty minutes with the Spruce Kings having a slight 14-13 advantage on shots and a 4-2 lead on scoring chances. One of the best may have been Jake LeBrun standing on the far side of the crease waiting for a pass out of the corner from Hansen. The puck ended up going off the toe of LeBrun's stick and the rookie couldn't find the puck in time for a shot on goal.

Sean Landrey also had a glorious scoring opportunity as he was sent in all alone and used a forehand-backhand move to slide the puck to the far side only to watch it go off the toe of the netminder. Other scoring chances would come from Hansen and Cameron Lawson who was drawing a crowd every time he touched the puck.

In the second period it was the Langley Rivermen again that scored first when Mario Puskarich finished off a 2-on-1 play putting the puck off the goal post and in past Kirk Thompson. That lead would last 4:24 before the Cascade Express Line went to work scoring a baseball like goal off the stick of Justin Rai. Jeremiah Luedtke started the play getting the puck behind the net for Chad Staley who bunted the puck up to the slot and a waiting Rai who swung at the puck in mid air, batting it into the net for his fifth of the season.

The second period would end with the teams tied 2-2 on the score clock and 26-26 on the shot clock. A total of four goal posts were also hit that never counted as shots but could have opened this game right up. The first was Trevor Cope who found himself in all alone on Thompson and ran the goal post on the blocker side. The other three all came on one Spruce Kings power play. Cameron Lawson found iron and then Shayne Morrissey rang a shot of both posts on the same shift.

In the third period, the Spruce Kings suffered two big setbacks beginning with a bad luck goal that saw Ryan Keis swat the puck into his own net. The Spruce Kings would get that one back when Justin Rai would score his second of the night and sixth of the season unassisted. Before that goal could be counted, the Langley Rivermen skated down the ice on a 3-on-2 finishing the tic-tac-toe play with a tap in on the far side of the net for Ben Greiner.

That lead would last the longest for the Rivermen as they held off the Spruce Kings for over 10 minutes including a full two minutes while Prince George was on their third man advantage of the game. Sixteen seconds after a penalty to Trevor Cope for holding onto Landrey, Hansen would come out of the corner and fight his way through traffic to slip the puck past James Barr and off the inside of the far goal post.

There were some nervous times for both teams in the dying minutes of regulation with both teams getting glorious chances to end the game before overtime. Both Thompson and Barr were sharp on the night and were able to get the game to extra time with Barr having the harder time. After sixty minutes the Spruce Kings were out shooting Langley by a 39-33 margin.

In the first overtime period and perhaps a little surprisingly or perhaps as recognition for their hard work through the game, Dave Dupas send Bryant Christian and Sean Landrey over the wall. The pair would find the puck and take it on a scoring chance. Landrey started the play only to have his shot stopped and turned aside but in the confusion of bodies looking for the loose puck it was the trailer on the play that would find it.

Mitch Eden had just come over the boards himself and followed the play into the offensive zone. Seeing the puck laying there, Eden picked it up and fired it over the bodies and the goaltender to score his second of the season and give the Spruce Kings their second overtime win of the season against the Langley Rivermen.

The goal keeps the offensive defenceman at the top of the Spruce Kings leader board with 2 goals and 13 assists for 15 points. After the game, Spruce Kings assistant coach, Brad Rihela said he wasn't superstitious at all but felt it was the hockey gods rewarding Eden for his hard work all season and for being the player victimized the last time these two teams met.

The Spruce Kings poured off the bench afterwards with absolute elation reigning supreme. After everything the team has been through with the bus going off the road and the long list of injured players, the win was a sweet one. The Spruce Kings will now prepare for their first meeting of the season against the Coquitlam Express, a team that sat idle on Friday night. The game goes at 7pm from the Poirier Sport & Leisure Complex in Coquitlam.

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