|It will be another Battle Royale tonight in the BCHL|
Finally, after how many days off, the Prince George Spruce Kings will see game action tonight. Yesterday the team hit the road at 6am and finally arrived at their destination in Powell River sixteen hours later. It is the longest road trip in the BCHL from Prince George to Powell River, but getting it done in one day and having a full day to recover should leave the Spruce Kings feeling no worse for wear.
This is the Spruce Kings first game since posting a 2-0 shutout win over the Surrey Eagles back on December 16th - nineteen days ago. The Powell River Kings returned to the ice last weekend for a single game, coming up on the wrong end of 6-3 score against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. The Powell River Kings have since had a week to practice and get ready for their first test in 2014.
Although the Spruce Kings haven't played in almost three weeks, they haven't been sitting idle either. The team has been skating together for the past week and have been working hard to make sure they are ready to go tonight. The Spruce Kings ended their pre-Christmas schedule with a three game road trip that started in the Island Division and they will finish off their Island Division games this weekend with another three game set.
The Spruce Kings are expected to go with a very similar lineup to the one that dressed against the Eagles with Kirk Thompson getting the nod in goal. The lone change will see Tanner Fjellstrom in on the line with Cameron Lawson and Tyson Witala. Other line combinations will have Shayne Morrissey centering up Jace Hennig and Coltyn Hansen. Bryant Christian will centre up Sean Landrey and Jake LeBrun. Of course the other line is the Cascade Express Line with Chad Staley between Jeremiah Luedtke and Justin Rai.
Defensively, the Spruce Kings will go with the six man unit consisting of recently committed Mitch Eden (St. Lawrence University), Trevor Esau, Karan Toor, Skylar Pacheco, Mark Begert and Kevin Guiltinan. Spencer Schoech, who is listed as a defenceman but has been playing as a forward as well since joining the Spruce Kings, will be a healthy scratch tonight. Lyndon Martell is the other scratch for this game. Martell has been skating again but is still a week or two away from returning to game action.
After the game tonight, the Spruce Kings will face the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Saturday and then finish up with a Sunday matinee affair in Nanaimo. The last road trip didn't start off well for Prince George and they will certainly be looking to start off the way they finished up. Through the years, this particular road trip hasn't been kind to the Spruce Kings where they haven't won since the 03/04 season.
Last season the game ended in a 2-2 tie and this season the Spruce Kings won their previous meeting 2-1 back on October 12 in the Coliseum. That is the norm in this head-to-head series that has favoured the home team far more often than the road team. There is just something about defending your own castle against the visiting royalty with these two and tonight should be no exception.
When I was at the rink earlier today, Kent Lewis was reminding his squad of that and told me after he wasn't happy with the performance in their first game back and will be expecting a lot more from them. This should be an entertaining contest with puck drop scheduled for 7:30pm from the Hap Parker Arena in Powell River. The game will be broadcast on 93.1 CFIS-FM with free online audio available from the Spruce Kings MIXLR.com channel and the pay-per-view feed on FASTHOCKEY.com.