|Spruce Kings will have to battle through the Bulldogs tonight|
The Prince George Spruce Kings will try a second time to find the win column in the first weekend of 2013 after the first try came up empty. In a battle of the League's royalty, it was the Powell River Kings that came up big and handed the Spruce Kings a 2-0 loss on Friday night.
After a night to mull it over and another ferry ride, this time to Courtenay, the team is enroute to its next destination of Port Alberni. This will be the second meeting of the season between these two teams with Prince George winning 6-3 the first time around back on October 26th in the Coliseum. In that game Prince George got goal scoring from Bryant Christian, Tyson Witala, Shayne Morrissey (2) and Coltyn Hansen (2) ... something they'll need to see return again tonight.
Goal scoring, scoring chances and even shots on goal were tough to come by Friday night for Prince George and that is something the coaching staff will want to see changed for tonight's game. In a previous three game weekend roadtrip, the Spruce Kings did just that and posted back to back wins to erase a poor start so there is no reason why the same can't be expected again tonight.
It is no secret that the intensity level rises significantly in the second half of the season as teams start jockeying for playoff positioning and operations staff start thinking about final changes that can be made to the rosters. The trade deadline is only five days away and most teams have the ability to make three player moves on or before that day ... something that can weight heavily on some players.
I think that last night's outcome was more a result of playing first games after the Christmas break. The Powell River Kings were embarassed at home on their return to action and took that out on the Spruce Kings who were getting back into the swing of things after a 19 day layoff. One thing is for sure and that excuse has now been used up.
The Spruce Kings will take on a team that sat idle last night and is itching to get back into action for their first game of 2013 after losing 2-1 on home ice in a New Year's Eve game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. The Bulldogs have been a little hot and cold this season but have fought through it to sit in second place in the Island Division with 40 points in 35 games.
Offensively, the Bulldogs are led by Ryan Lough with 14 goals and 20 assists followed by Evan Tironese and his 10 goals and 18 assists. The Bulldogs top defenceman was a mid-season acquistion from the Langley Rivermen. Bo Pellah brought with him 1 goal and 12 assists in 14 games and has since added 1 goal and 6 assists in 13 games with the Bulldogs. The other d-man to watch is a rookie sensation in Jared Wilson (6G, 13A in 32 games).
The Spruce Kings are still led by their rookie defenceman Mitch Eden (2G, 26A) followed by Coltyn Hansen (10G, 15A) and Cameron Lawson (12G, 8A). The strength of the Spruce Kings over the course of the past few games has come from their veteran netminder, Kirk Thompson. Credited with 37 saves again last night, Thompson was a key reason the game wasn't a blowout. Thompson is expected to start again tonight against the Bulldogs.
Game time tonight is 7pm from the Weyhauser Arena in Port Alberni. The game will be broadcast live on 93.1 CFIS-FM with a free online audio broadcast available through the Spruce Kings MIXLR.com channel and the pay-per-view feed on FASTHOCKEY.com. Following the game, the team will make its way over to Nanaimo where they will wrap up the weekend road trip with a 3pm matinee game against the Clippers on Sunday.
If this particular postings seems a little topsy turvey, please know that it was written while on a BC Ferries from Powell River to Courtenay during quite a rough sailing.