|Liam McLeod (35) will get the start tonight vs the Chiefs|
It's hard to believe that it has taken twenty five games before these two mainland divisional opponents play each other, but that is the case for the Chilliwack Chiefs and the Prince George Spruce Kings. Last year both teams played out of the Interior Conference after the Quesnel Millionaires folded and essentially relocated to Chilliwack.
Last season these two met a total of eight times in the regular season with both teams claiming four wins, the slight advantage did go to Prince George with two of the three overtime victories. All of those games were close with the Spruce Kings outscoring the Chiefs 26-24 on the season.
The similarities between the two teams didn’t end with just head-to-head stats. Both teams finished the season with 33 wins and were separated by a single point in the standings. The Spruce Kings finished third (33-21-2-4) with 72 points while the Chilliwack Chiefs had 71 points finishing fourth (33-22-2-3).
This season both teams are searching for spots in the top half of the division and have found success through the first twenty five games. Both teams have had six game winning streaks and have sat in top spot of the Mainland Division. The Chiefs are the latest to hold that spot and have amassed 36 points (17-6-1-1) while the Spruce Kings are currently third (12-7-1-5).
The Chilliwack Chiefs are rolling on the strength of one line in particular. Luke Esposito is the centre and setup man for Austin Plevy and Josh Hansen. Between the three of them, they have scored 40 goals and have a combined point total nearing the century mark.
After the top line, players to watch for tonight are David Thompson (4G, 11A), Trevor Hills (5G, 9A) and Jaret Babych (7G, 3A). Also in that watch list are Cooper Rush, Austin Plevy and Luke Esposito who have all been ranked in the most recent NHL Central Scouting preliminary rankings for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey.
The Spruce Kings are into their second of three consecutive weekends at home and are coming off a pair of disappointing overtime losses to the Surrey Eagles. With Lyndon Martell, Latrell Charleson and Justin Rai all scratched tonight, Liam Blackburn has been given the call up from the Cariboo Cougars of the BC Major Midget League. Blackburn will be wearing jersey 24 and is set to play on a line with Tanner Fjellstrom and Jake LeBrun.
Tonight's game is a 7pm start in the Coliseum with the game broadcast on 93.1 CFIS-FM. It can also be heard online with the free audio broadcast on CFISFM.com and the pay-per-view broadcast on FASTHOCKEY.com.