|Braiden Epp (26) skates through the top of the crease with a|
scoring chance against the Chilliwack Chiefs last Monday
The Prince George Spruce Kings will wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule and play their final game of 2013 tonight in Chilliwack when they face the Chiefs for the third time in four games. The Spruce Kings and the Chiefs have met five times already this season with Prince George leading the head-to-head series with four wins and an overtime loss. But don't think this game is going to be an easy one for the visitors.
The Chilliwack Chiefs have shown that they are a capable team and had the Spruce Kings in a good old fashioned shoot-out in their last meeting. Getting Prince George off their defensive game is no easy task, but on Monday the Chiefs found a way to build up a pair of two goal leads and finished the game with five goals total. Last night the Spruce Kings allowed five goals again but the difference was they weren't able to score the eight against Surrey that they did against Chilliwack.
In Thursday's game, the Spruce Kings had some great chances in the first half of the first period and were outshooting the Surrey Eagles 7-2 after 12 minutes of play. After the BCHL timeout, it was the Eagles that came up with some chances of their own and closed down the lanes to the net that were open earlier, holding the Spruce Kings to without a shot on goal. The drought continued into the second period allowing the Eagles to find the bounce they needed to open the scoring.
The game's first goal came two minutes into the second period when Colton Mackie centered a pass from the left corner to a crowd skating down the slot in front of the net. The puck was directed into the net off the foot of Brett Mulcahy and, after a brief discussion by the officials, was ruled a good goal. The Eagles would continue to get chances and were rewarded with their first powerplay of the game mid-way through the middle frame. They made short order of the man-advantage scoring thirty seconds in to give them their first two goal lead of the game.
Jake LeBrun was able to get that one back after he pounced on a loose puck at the side of the net and pushed it in. The Eagles restored their two goal lead moments later but before the second was over, Jeremiah Luedtke lifted his ninth of the season over the reach of the Surrey netminder. The third period started with another early goal for the Surrey Eagles giving them their third two goal lead of the game. Again the Spruce Kings would come back with a lucky bounce of their own after Mitch Eden's dump in shot deflected off the stantion and got in behind the netminder.
An empty net goal late in the third period sealed the fate of the Spruce Kings in a 5-3 loss. With no points in game number 35 of the season, the Spruce Kings can no longer catch the Langley Rivermen before Christmas. The Rivermen sit idle until December 28th with 48 points through 37 games played, the Spruce Kings can close the gap with a win tonight. Prince George has 44 points heading into tonight's game and will still have a game in hand afterwards.
The Chilliwack Chiefs have tonight and one more game to get through before their Christmas break and it will be a short break. The Chiefs play on December 21st and again on December 28th whereas the Spruce Kings will head home after tonight's game and will reconvene in time for their next game on January 3rd in Powell River. The shorter break for the Chiefs along with their current situation in the Mainland Division makes them a dangerous team at this time of the year.
When you look closely at the Chiefs record, what's missing is how close some of those games were and how a bounce here or there could have completely turned the outcome of games completely around. The Spruce Kings have been there and have seen that scenario play out themselves firsthand. The team has also experienced the thrill of a second half season turn-around and know that the Chilliwack Chiefs will be looking to start their own surge tonight.
The game will be broadcast live online with the pay-per-view feed available through Fasthockey.com and a free audio only webcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 6:40pm.