Sunday, December 16, 2012

Kirk Thompson, Spruce Kings Shutout Surrey

Kirk Thompson (1) stops Brett Mulcahy on a breakaway in the 2nd

Turning aside 41 shots and quality shots at that, Kirk Thompson picks up his second shutout of the season and second shutout against the Surrey Eagles as the Spruce Kings close out their pre-Christmas schedule with a 2-0 win. Kirk Thompson was stopping them with his pads and even stopping them without pads as the twenty year old goaltender seemed possessed as he did his job to perfection in front of numerous family, friends and scouts at the South Surrey Arena.

The win also gives Kirk the most wins among franchise goaltenders with 38, one better than previous record holder Greg Goodwin who had 37 during his three seasons with the Spruce Kings from 2000-2003.

It started early for the netminder as he was put to the test countless times in the opening few minutes especially when the Spruce Kings were shorthanded two men for 1:40 in the early goings of the game. Thompson robbed Michael Stenerson who was standing on the doorstep and was sure he had slid the puck under the netminder. Brady Shaw and Brett Mulcahy were also robbed of sure goals in the opening minutes.

After taking three consecutive penalties, the Spruce Kings were able to mount a little pressure of their own and changed the shot clock from a 7-1 deficit to something a little more manageable finishing the period trailing 12-10. Of those shots a great majority of them from both sides were quality scoring chances as the goaltenders fed off each other and put together great games.

In the second period, the Surrey Eagles again carried the play and enjoyed three more powerplays but couldn't capitalize on any of them. Shots on goal in the second period were hugely in favour of the Eagles who counted 13 to the Spruce Kings 3 in the middle frame. After forty minutes it remained a scoreless game with the Eagles outshooting the Spruce Kings 25-13.

The third period seemed to be more of the same as the Eagles pressed hard for the game's first goal. On one shot in close, Demico Hanoun was looking top shelf and caught Kirk Thompson with the puck above the chest and shoulder pads and below the face mask hitting the goaltender in the neck. Thompson went down fast bringing a rush of concerned people to the crease but the veteran goaltender got up and shook it off and stayed in the net.

That scare must of been the spark that the Spruce Kings needed as they found themselves in the offensive zone with the Cascade Express Line cycling the puck down low. The puck would come out to Trevor Esau on the left point who took two strides to the net and let go a low wrist shot that squeezed through three sets of legs and then the five hole of Michael Santaquida who never saw the shot coming. The goal at 5:26 was the first for either team in the game and the second of the season for Esau.

After that goal the Eagles did nothing but swarm the net looking for the equalizer but there was nothing getting past Thompson on this night. In the late stages of the third period, the Spruce Kings were called for a penalty when Cameron Lawson tried to take the puck off an Eagles stick and was given a hooking call. The Eagles played the entire next minute in the Spruce Kings zone and got off a number of quality shots that were either blocked or turned aside by Thompson and one rang the iron behind the netminder.

With time running down in the game, the Eagles pulled their netminder to make it a 6-on-4 man advantage. The play went against the half wall where Trevor Esau was working at getting the puck out of his zone with his back to ice, Craig Wyszomirski came in with a blindside hit and was given a minor penalty for a check from behind that carries with it a game misconduct.

Now playing four on four, the Eagles again pulled their netminder to make it a 5-on-4. That turned into the opportunity Coltyn Hansen needed to provide the Spruce Kings with their insurance marker as he pocketed his tenth of the season into the empty net with 14 seconds remaining in the game. After the game there was a lot of disbelieve as the Surrey Eagles had more shots, more chances and carried a lot of the play but could do nothing to get the puck past Kirk Thompson.

The Spruce Kings never lost the belief in themselves this weekend even after suffering the same fate on Fridaythe night where the they had chance after chance but came up empty against the Victoria Grizzlies and the first period against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. As the weekend progressed they outscored their opposition 6-0 in the final five periods of their three game road trip.

The win puts the Spruce Kings firmly in second place in the Mainland Division with a three point cushion on the Surrey Eagles heading into the Christmas break. The Eagles do have three games in hand and will play those on December 28, 29 and 30. The Spruce Kings don't play again until January 4 when they visit the Powell River Kings followed by the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on January 5 and the Nanaimo Clippers on January 6. The next home games will be a double header against the Chilliwack Chiefs on January 18 & 19.

On behalf of all of the entire Spruce Kings organization, I would like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, a happy and safe holidays and a Happy New Year.

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