Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chiefs Sweep Weekend Set With Spruce Kings

Chad Staley (22) finishes the play as the Cascade Express Line
scores in the first period against Chilliwack

Whatever the Chilliwack Chiefs are doing to the Prince George Spruce Kings, it sure is working.

For the second time in as many nights the Chiefs skated to a 4-2 win at the Coliseum against the Spruce Kings. The Chiefs, who moved into first place in the Mainland Division with the win, now have defeated the Spruce Kings five times this year.

A pair of first period goals by Philip Zielonka gave the Chiefs a lead they would never relinquish. Josh Hansen and Luke Esposito also scored for the visitors, while Chad Staley and Mark Begert replied for Prince George.

The Spruce Kings actually dominated the game early, racking up 11 shots in the first eight minutes and spending large chunks of time in Chiefs territory, but it was Chilliwack who struck first as Zielonka handcuffed Spruce Kings goalie Kirk Thompson.

Prince George was finally rewarded for their hard work in the early going when Justin Rai made a nifty saucer pass to Staley, who was crashing the net. Staley got the puck passed Mitch Gillam to even the score.

Zielonka struck a second time before the first period was out. The Chiefs leading goal scorer was the beneficiary of a scrambley play in front of the Spruce Kings net and scored his 25th of the season after locating the loose puck near the crease.

The Spruce Kings had a great chance to tie the game in the second period when Coltyn Hansen was awarded a penalty shot after he was hauled down by Cooper Rush on a breakaway, but the Prince George forward couldn't be Gillam. Hansen elected to shoot rather than deke and the Chiefs goalie got a pad on the puck.

Late in the second Josh Hansen gave the Chiefs a two-goal lead when he beat Thompson with a shot off a rush down the left win. The shot seemed to fool the Spruce Kings goalie, who got a piece of it before it snuck by him.

The Chiefs, who have the league's best penalty kill, frustrated the Spruce Kings power play for most of the weekend but it was Begert on the man advantage who got the home side back into it in the third. Begert's blast from the blue-line made its way through a crowd on the way to beating Gillam and getting the Spruce Kings within one.

It was a similar script to Friday, when Prince George scored late to make it a one goal game, but once again they weren't able to find the equalizer. Esposito iced the game with an empty net goal.

Zielonka took home Treasure Cove Casino first star honours and his linemate Austin Plevy was the second star after picking up three assists. Plevy had a goal and two assists on Friday. Begert was named the third star.

A pair of Prince George linemates were also honoured, with Jake LeBrun taking home the FortisBC Energy player of the game and Bryant Christian winning the Dairy Queen player of the game.

The Spruce Kings and Chiefs play again in Chilliwack on Wednesday. The Spruce Kings are home to Coquitlam for a pair next weekend, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

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