Saturday, December 15, 2012

Finding Positives

Coltyn Hansen (10) had a number of excellent chance
in Friday's game including two breakaways and two goal posts

The three game weekend didn't get started on the right foot for the Prince George Spruce Kings, in fact it didn't get started at all. The Spruce Kings couldn't find a way to beat the opposition goaltender or the red iron suffering a 7-0 loss to the Victoria Grizzlies on Friday night.

The Spruce Kings started out strong but couldn't find a way to beat Michael Stiliadis and when they did, they couldn't beat the iron. One of the first shots on goal was a Coltyn Hansen dinger that rang off the cross bar. Shortly after that Shayne Morrissey grazed the outside of the far post, not once but twice.

Meanwhile the Victoria Grizzlies found a way to create a bounce that worked to their favour to open the scoring. Off a faceoff win in the Spruce Kings end, Nolan DeJong's point shot got tipped on its way to Liam McLeod who made the save but left a loose puck sitting just out of his reach in the blue paint. David Mazurek was able to pounce on the loose puck beyond an outstretched McLeod and put the puck into the back of the net.

The Grizzlies would add another before the end of the first period while enjoying a man advantage. Zach Urban started the play from the high slot feeding the puck over to the right point to Jaden Schmeisser who looked off the defenders and spotted Mazurek standing all alone in the far faceoff circle. Mazurek had no problems with the perfect pass and the wide open net on the far side making it a 2-0 game. The unfortunate part of that goal was that it came just seconds after Coltyn Hansen had a short handed breakaway chance that was swept off the goal line by the trailing Victoria defenceman.

The Spruce Kings didn't fare much better in the second period despite starting with two early powerplays. On the second man advantage, Skylar Pacheco stepped into a shot on the top of the right faceoff circle and rang a shot off the far goal post. The Victoria Grizzlies then started to put the game out of reach when Zach Urban broke up a Spruce Kings rush and was able to spring Gerry Fitzgerald on a breakaway of his own who scored high glove side to make the game 3-0.

It was 4-0 shortly after another faceoff in the Spruce Kings end. Myles Fitzgerald was able to get the puck onto the stick of Gerry who was given too much time in front of the net. Gerry walked through the blue paint before squeezing the puck between the goal post and McLeod. The Spruce Kings didn't go away and continued to mount chances but still nothing to show for their effort.

The third period started with a forgettable first half marked by a trio of Victoria goals. The first one came after a huge open ice hit at centre ice that saw Mark McLellan hit the deck. The play continued down the ice and resulted in a couple of chances that McLeod turned aside until McLellan came back into the play and was able to drop in a wrap around to give Victoria a 5-0 lead.

Three minutes later with the Spruce Kings pressing with another man advantage opportunity, the Victoria Grizzlies jumped on a shorthanded chance of their own. Chase Kaiser was able to get the puck through the middle and into the Spruce Kings end, letting go a shot that McLeod turned aside. The rebound was picked up by DJ Jones who rung one of the iron himself. The puck came out to Stefan Nicholishen who was trailing the play and able to bury his shot.

Not done just yet, the Victoria Grizzlies had one more goal in them and it would be the Fitzgerald triplets adding the insult to injury. Gerry Fitzgerald picked up his hat trick goal at 6:37 of the third after being set up by Myles. The Spruce Kings would again get a couple more chances with the best going to Coltyn Hansen who was sprung on a breakaway down the left side only to be turned aside by the toe of Stiliadis.

The common consensus after the game, especially after the second period, was that this game appeared to be more lopsided on the scoresheet then it should have been given the quality of chances. No less than four goal posts, two breakaways and a handful of excellent scoring chances but still that is all that the Spruce Kings will have heading into their second game of the weekend.

The Spruce Kings will be looking to rebound as they head up the Island Highway to Duncan and the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Game time is 7pm from the Island Savings Centre and broadcast on 93.1 CFIS-FM and

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