Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekend Sweep Pushes Spruce Kings Up Standings

Kirk Thompson (1) with one of his many sensational saves

The Prince George Spruce Kings officially have their mojo back.

After a five-game losing skid saw them dip as low as fourth place in the Mainland Division, the Spruce Kings completed a perfect weekend with a 4-1 win over the Coquitlam Express on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum. It was the team's third win in as many days for the Spruce Kings and second straight over their divisional rivals.

The three wins, combined with some losses by others in the Mainland Division, have pushed the Spruce Kings into a second-place tie with the Surrey Eagles. Both teams are four points back of division-leading Chilliwack.

It didn't take long for the Spruce Kings to carry over the momentum from Saturday night's 6-4 win over the Express. Just 25 seconds into the game Sean Landrey finished off a play set up by Bryant Christian and Jake LeBrun.

Two goals just over a minute apart midway through the second period by the team's top goal scorers, gave the Spruce Kings a 3-0 lead and control of the game. First Cameron Lawson came streaking down the right wing and fired a shot passed Express starter Cole Huggins at 8:25, with Kevin Guiltinan and Skylar Pacheco picking up the helpers. Just 64 seconds later Mark Begert found Tyson Witala with a stretch pass down the left wing and he lifted a shot over Huggins shoulder. Witala's tally allowed him to retake the team goal-scoring lead from Lawson; Witala has 14 on the year to Lawson's 13.

That was it for Huggins, who was replaced by Daniel Urbani after giving up three goals on 20 shots.

The Express did get one back in the second period as Philip Zielonka had a couple of whacks at a rebound, before finally beating Kirk Thompson on the third attempt. John Siemer picked up the only assist.

Thompson, the Treasure Trove Casino first star, excelled for the Spruce Kings making 39 saves including many of the spectacular variety. With the Spruce Kings leading 1-0 early in the second period, Thompson made his save of the game coming across the crease to rob Justin Georgeson who had a one-timer all set up. In the third he made an acrobatic save off a second-chance attempt by Zielonka, somehow stretching to get his leg on the puck.

Thompson also got some help from his defencemen, with Trevor Esau sliding to break up a 3-on-1 late in the second period. Esau, along with defence partner Karan Toor, were tasked with shutting down the Express' top line and did a marvelous job. Toor was rewarded with the Dairy Queen player of the game award.

The Shayne Morrissey-Coltyn Hansen-Jace Hennig line generated some great chances in the first period, but were held off the score sheet until the third when Hansen skated behind the net, found Morrissey stationed at the side of the net and the sniper buried his 11th of the year. Hennig also picked up an assist on the goal which came at 8:25 and restored the three-goal advantage.

Hennig was named the game's second star an Christian was the third star. Landrey was named the Fortis Energy player of the game.

It was the only goal the Spruce Kings scored on Urbani, who made 19 saves in relief of Huggins.

After the game, fans took to the ice for the skate with the Spruce Kings promotion at the Coliseum.

The Spruce Kings now have eight straight road games ahead of them spread out over the next five weeks, including stops next weekend in Victoria, Cowichan Valley and Surrey, the team's final three games before the Christmas break. The Spruce Kings aren't back in the Castle until Jan. 18, when Chilliwack comes north for a pair.

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