Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cascade Express Line Gets the Spruce Kings Rolling Again

After allowing three goals in the first period, Kirk Thompson
and the Spruce Kings shut down the Capitals offence

The Spruce Kings were able to turn the tide in the second period and erase a three goal deficit to win Saturday night 4-3 over the Cowichan Valley Capitals. The game started out with a little more of the same from Friday night as the Capitals came out crashing and banging and opened the scoring 1:03 into the game. After adding two more in the opening period, the Capitals were the one that found themselves snake bitten as the Spruce Kings scored four unanswered goals in the second period to post the win.

From the very first shift and for about ten minutes afterwards, the Cowichan Valley Capitals carried the play and had their way with the Spruce Kings. Karan Toor was the first to feel the pressure as he was hammered into the back wall and went down heavy. On the next shift Steen Cooper worked the puck into the Spruce Kings zone and eventually onto the stick of Teal Burns who opened the scoring just 63 seconds into the contest and on the Capitals third shot on goal.

The physical play continued and the Capitals came at Prince George in waves creating another scoring chance that converted at the 4 minute mark. Kyle Horseman found himself in the slot and fired a quick shot some four inches off the ice that floated over the big stick of Kirk Thompson and found the five hole.

The Capitals weren't done there and the same line would provide the game's third goal on a play that started inside the Capitals zone. Horseman was again the work horse on this play as he got the puck up the ice and into the Spruce Kings zone leaving it for Dane Gibson whose shot was stopped but came right back to Hayden James Berra in the slot. The Prince George hockey product wasted no time teeing up a shot that found the corner low to the blocker side.

After the fact the Spruce Kings said they weren't nervous and believed that they could mount a comeback. I don't think they expected it come as quickly as it did. After giving up three goals to the Cowichan Valley Capitals in 14:16 of the first period, the Spruce Kings would respond with three of their own in the first 9:23 of the second period.

The first goal would come on the opening shift which Dave Dupas changed up prior to the puck drop. Originally going with Bryant Christian, Sean Landrey and Jake LeBrun, Dupas pulled that line in favour of the Cascade Express line who had created three chances in the first period for the Spruce Kings. In the second period the line would cash in as a result of some hard work by all three that resulted in Justin Rai picking up the puck in the short side face off circle and threading the needle low glove side for his 9th of the season 35 seconds into the period.

It would take a couple more shifts before the line would get another good scoring chance but again they would make it count off a strong solo effort by Chad Staley. After Jeremiah Luedtke forced the turnover just inside the blueline, Staley did the rest as he picked up the puck, eluded a couple of checks and forced his way through the top of the crease outwaiting the goaltender and then beating him to the far post.

The second goal provided even more spark for the Spruce Kings bench and when the line of Coltyn Hansen, Shayne Morrissey and Jace Hennig came over the boards they made a little more magic happen. With an offensive zone faceoff, Morrissey was able to win the draw back to Skylar Pacheco who walked into the top of the faceoff circle before letting go a shot that went into the corner. Hennig picked it up there and got back out to Morrissey who took another shot that was stopped with the rebound coming out to Pacheco in the slot. Pacheco fired the one timer after stepping around one defender and found the back of the net with his second of the season to tie the game 3-3.

With just under two minutes to go in the second period, the Spruce Kings were rewarded with their first powerplay of the game after Mitch Ball - an affiliate player call up for the Capitals - was called for a trip. The Spruce Kings worked the puck around but couldn't get anything going at first and the Capitals cleared the zone. On the ensuing rush Hayden James Berra caught Jeremiah Luedtke with a heavy hit drawing a boarding minor and giving the Spruce Kings a two man advantage with less than 30 seconds remaining in the middle frame.

In a play that we may have seen once or twice before this season, the Cascade Express line connected on a sweet powerplay move. Justin Rai fed the puck to Chad Staley and then headed to the far side of the net waiting for Staley to feed him from behind the net, but instead Staley flipped it back to Luedtke catching everybody else moving the wrong way opening the short side of the net wide for Luedtke who potted his fifth of the season with 2.3 seconds remaining.

The second period ended with the Spruce Kings leading on the scoreboard 4-3 and tied in shots with the Cowichan Valley Capitals 20-20. The third period saw the Capitals come out strong once again but without an answer for Kirk Thompson who turned aside all 12 shots he faced in the final frame. The Spruce Kings meanwhile had a hard time convincing the shot counter that their shots were on target and finished with only two shots in the third period. That stat didn't matter as the Spruce Kings kept the Capitals off the scoreboard in the final forty minutes to post the 4-3 come-from-behind win.

Certainly the coaching staff had to be a little concerned after the opening twenty minutes with the Spruce Kings unable to find a goal through 80 minutes of play in their weekend road trip. The Spruce Kings will wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule with a matinee affair in the Eagle Nest against the Surrey Eagles at 4pm Sunday. It will be the team's final game of the 2012 calendar year and afterwards the players will go their separate ways to spend the Christmas break with their family and friends.

Just a reminder for fans looking to tune into the game on Sunday, the game will not be broadcast on 93.1 CFIS-FM but will be available on the Spruce Kings MIXLR channel and on

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