|Spruce Kings in Coquitlam tonight to take on the Express|
A night after feeling like they had one taken away from them, the Prince George Spruce Kings will have to get back on the rails as they take on the Coquitlam Express. The Spruce Kings had a 2-1 lead heading into the final two minutes of last night's game only to see that slip through their fingers while shorthanded on a marginal calls. The Express also went to overtime and won their game in overtime.
As far as momentum goes, this one favours the Express who erased a pair of Centennial leads before winning the game on a penalty shot in overtime. The penalty shot was the result of a penalty to Sean Maktaak in the second overtime period that results in an automatic free breakaway from centre ice. Adam Rockwood played the hero for Coquitlam and electrified the Express dressing room - something they have been in serious need of.
Since starting the season in fine form, the Express have fallen upon some lean times and watched themselves fall from top spot in the Mainland Division all the way to the bottom. The free fall seemingly led to a fire sale with the Express trading away some big pieces in Phillip Zielonka (Chilliwack), John Siemer (Penticton) and the team's captain, Mitch Nardi (West Kelowna). The Express did get a few pieces back in the deals including Garrett Forster and Ben Israel from the Chiefs as well as Lars Hepso and Adam Rossignol from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
Almost prophetic in nature, Dave Dupas told me during the pregame broadcast yesterday that sometimes you add by subtraction and sure enough the Express seem like a better team today than they did prior to the trade deadline. After picking up only one win in their previous nine games (including two losses to the Spruce Kings) the Express will gladly take this win over the Centennials and try and run with it now.
The Spruce Kings will have to make sure they don't let what happened last night affect their confidence or change their approach to the game. The team was rolling last night creating chances off of the rush and finding ways to set up and maintain pressure in the offensive zone. In the faceoff circle the centres were almost unbeatable led by David Stephens and Bryant Christian who were given the task of facing off against the other teams top centres.
Prior to the game there was a lingering question of whether or not Stephens and Lyndon Martell would be game ready having missed as much game time to injury as they had. They quickly put that question to rest and didn't miss a step out there with Coltyn Hansen on their line. For the most part the lines will stay the same tonight as they were against the Chiefs. The lone exception coming on the energy line with Sean Landrey out after being banged up on a play that put the big forward hard into the boards.
Speaking of that energy line, it is too bad there isn't any video of the Jake LeBrun hit on Cooper Rush. The rookie forward for Prince George lined up the big 6' 7" defenceman perfectly in front of the Spruce Kings bench and put him in the visitor's bench with a solid hip check. I'm not just talking over the wall, I'm talking completely in the bench. Rush had to pick himself up from completely inside the bench area and step over the boards to get back into the game.
Spencer Schoech will take Landrey's spot on the left wing with LeBrun on the opposite side while Christian will stay at centre. Jace Hennig will stay in Justin Rai's spot on the Cascade Express line with Chad Staley and Jeremiah Luedtke and the other line will feature Shayne Morrissey with Tyson Witala and Cameron Lawson. I thought all four lines created chances last night and certainly Dave Dupas will want to see that continue tonight.
Game time is 7pm with the game being broadcast on 93.1 CFIS-FM, Ron Gallo will also have the call of the game available for free online through the Spruce Kings MIXLR.com channel and the pay-per-view feed will be on FASTHOCKEY.com. Following the game the Spruce Kings will head home to prepare for their first home game of 2013 and first since December 9th. The Spruce Kings will host the Chilliwack Chiefs in the first game of a double header on Friday January 18th.