Saturday, January 26, 2013

Game Preview: vs Coquitlam Express

Spruce Kings will like to see this scene play out again tonight

The Prince George Spruce Kings are back on home ice for the first half of a double header against the Coquitlam Express – and it couldn’t come at a better time. The Spruce Kings have struggled in their past few games and, thanks to the Chilliwack Chiefs, are winless in their last three games. The Spruce Kings previous victory came at the expense of the Express back on January 12 in Coquitlam.

Like the Chiefs have been able to do to the Spruce Kings so far this season, so have the Spruce Kings done to the Express. In four meetings so far this season, Prince George has a 4-0 record over Coquitlam outscoring their Mainland Divisional opponent 19-8. This stat won’t sit well for the Express who rolled into town last night and remember coming up empty in the Castle the last time they were here for a double header.

The Express are winless in four games with their last victory coming in a thrilling overtime finish against the Merritt Centennials two weeks ago. The winning goal showed up on national television, comparing Adam Rockwood’s moves in a penalty shot to that of NHL’er Pavel Datsyuk. Since then the Express haven’t had much to celebrate, in fact they are 1 for 9 in their last ten games.

Something will have to give tonight for two teams that sat on top of the Mainland Division standings in the early parts of the season and have since fallen on lean times. The Spruce Kings have been faring better with an almost .500 record in their past ten outings (4-5-0-1). Prince George’s home record remains one of the better ones in the BCHL, failing to pick up any points in only five of 18 games played in the Coliseum.

The Spruce Kings desperately want home ice win number ten and regular season win number twenty tonight and have been a little sour since returning home from Chilliwack Wednesday night. The team has had some spirited practices and long discussions to see if there is something that can be done to get the team moving in the right direction as the playoffs continue to draw closer on the horizon.

Players out of the lineup for one reason or another could play a factor tonight. The Coquitlam Express rolled into town without four of their regulars in the lineup leaving Jon Calvano and the coaching staff to bring in an all AP line to provide a full complement of forwards for the game. Alexander Kerfoot returned home after a season ending injury earlier in the year, Lars Hepso has still to report to the Express while Brandon Morley and Sam Majka are sidelined with undisclosed injuries.

The Spruce Kings have their own woes to worry about and will be without Kevin Guiltinan tonight who is serving the first of a two game suspension for a blow to the head in Wednesday’s game. Coltyn Hansen is out with a lower body injury after blocking a shot, also in Wednesday’s game and Tyson Witala will miss the game tonight due to personal reasons. Kody Disher was expected tonight as an AP call up, but that changed when his flight was delayed making him unavailable now until tomorrow leaving the Spruce Kings one player short of a full bench.

Puck drop tonight is 7pm at the Prince George Coliseum with the game broadcast on 93.1 CFIS-FM beginning with the pre-game show at 6:35pm. For listeners out of town, the free online audio broadcast is on the Spruce Kings channel and there is also the pay-per-view video broadcast on Ron St. Clair, Todd Doherty, Peter James and Ron Gallo will provide the play-by-play, commentary, analysis and interviews during the game.

The same two teams will faceoff again Sunday afternoon at 3pm and following that game, fans will be able to skate with the players. Remember to bring your skates to the game Sunday and then skate with the Spruce Kings afterwards.

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