Friday, January 18, 2013

Chiefs Double Up Spruce Kings

Jake LeBrun (8) was tripped on this partial break-away

Generating offensive chances wasn't a problem for the Prince George Spruce Kings on Friday night, but converting them into goals was in a 4-2 defeat against the Chilliwack Chiefs.

The Spruce Kings directed 48 shots on Chiefs goaltender Mitch Gillam at the Coliseum but only lit the lamp twice in a physical game between two division rivals battling for playoff position.

The Spruce Kings also had nine power-play opportunities, including a pair of extended two-man advantages. They were able to get some great scoring chances - Justin Rai in the slot, Jake LeBrun at the side of the net and Cameron Lawson on the halfboards all came close in the first period alone, but Gillam and the Chiefs penalty killers held them at bay.

After Philip Zielonka gave the Chiefs a 1-0 lead in the first period on a two-man advantage for the visitors, the Spruce Kings finally struck with a power-play goal of their own in the second. David Stephens batted a bouncing puck out of the air and past Gillam to even the score at 1-1.

The game again turned in the Chiefs favour late in the second period when Spencer Graboski caught a break on a 2-on-1 rush. Although it appeared as if he was trying to pass the puck cross ice, it re-directed off diving Spruce Kings defender Kevin Guiltinan, off the post and past Spruce Kings goaltender Kirk Thompson.

The Chiefs took that 2-1 lead into the second intermission, but the Spruce Kings came out flying in the third, generating chance after chance only to be stymied time after time by Gillam, who earned Treasure Cove Casino first star honours.

The Chiefs extended their lead when they got a goal from their affiliate player line. Brandon Volpe, Spencer McHaffie and Scott McHaffie had been giving the Spruce Kings fits all the day and all three players got on the score sheet when Volple beat Thompson with a wrister from the slot.

Bryant Christian got Prince George back within on late, with a beautiful deflection off a Mark Begert point shot. Christian was named the Dairy Queen player of the game.

The Spruce Kings pressed hard for the equalizer, but it was Austin Plevy who iced it for the Chiefs with an empty-net goal with 10 seconds left.

Plevy, who had a goal and two helpers, was named the third star and Thompson took second-star honours after a 35-save effort.

Spruce Kings captain Trevor Esau, who left the game in the second period for a bit to deal with a nasty cut on his face, was named the FortisBC Energy player of the game.

The win gives the Chiefs a seven-point lead over Prince George for second in the Mainland Division, but the Spruce Kings will have a chance to cut into that lead when the two teams face off again at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Castle.

No comments: