Friday, January 11, 2013


Bryant Christian (11) winning a faceoff draw against Luke Esposito,
Christian had a fantastic game against the Chiefs top line
It would seem that the Spruce Kings at least had two points picked from their grasp as time was winding down in Friday night's divisional matchup with the Chiefs. In the end Chilliwack was able to capitalize on two marginal penalty calls, one in the final two minutes and one in overtime, to defeat Prince George 3-2 in extra time.
Penalties would really be the difference in this game as all five goals were scored with a player sitting in the penalty box, four of them when Prince George was short a man. The Chilliwack Chiefs opened the scoring just 15 seconds into their first powerplay of the game after Karan Toor was called for the trip. The Chiefs would finish the first period 1 for 2 with the man advantage while the Spruce Kings went 0 for 2 in their chances.
To start the second period the Spruce Kings were the recipient of two overlapping calls against the Chiefs putting Prince George on a two man advantage for 1:27. Just as the first penalty expired and the penalized player stepped onto the ice, Lyndon Martell pulled the Spruce Kings even with his six of the season. The shot came from just off the faceoff circle and blew past Mitch Gilliam just off the inside of the far goal post.
The Spruce Kings would kill off their next two penalties in the second period and the Chiefs their lone infraction leaving the teams tied 1-1 after two periods of play. The Spruce Kings were full value for their effort on Friday night coming out fast against the Chilliwack Chiefs and building on their chances. At times the speed of the Spruce Kings seemed almost too much for the home team to handle, such was the case in the third period.
In the final period the Spruce Kings were called for three penalties. The first one was a hooking call against Cameron Lawson, who must have thought he was playing in a phone booth all night as the Chiefs stuck to him like glue and didn't give him much room to work with. The Spruce Kings killed off the penalty and seemed to be building momentum when they were caught with too many men on the ice.
What should have taken the wind out of the sails for Prince George and provide Chilliwack with the opportunity they needed turned the other way. On a great defensive play at the right point Coltyn Hansen stole the puck from the Chiefs defenceman, played it off the wall to centre ice and with a burst of speed picked up the puck in full flight through the middle. Flying down the left side wall, Hansen teed up the puck deep in the faceoff circle and let go a howitzer that handcuffed Gilliam finding the far side of the net on the glove side.
All five goals were odd-man situations
The goal was an unbelievable snipe coming off a show of incredible speed by the twenty year old vet and gave the Spruce Kings a huge lift on the bench. Prince George killed off that penalty and looked to have the game in hand when everything turned around them and the referee made a series of decision that impacted the game when maybe they shouldn't have.
There are marginal calls made in just about every game, sometimes they are actual calls and sometimes they are non-calls. There is an old-school belief that in the late stages of a game and especially overtime that the whistles should be put away. We know that isn't always the case and it certainly wasn't that way on this night. But what makes the whole thing even more unbelievable is that the referee making the calls apologized to the Spruce Kings bench for two of them when Prince George still had the 2-1 lead.
The first questionable call came against Kevin Guiltinan as he tried to stay close to his man and went to poke the puck away from the Chiefs forward. Spencer Grabowski moved the puck to the wall at the same time that Guiltinan's stick went for the poke check, Grabowski as much stepped on the stick as anything and went down bringing up the referee's arm. After the call was made, the official went over to the bench and apologized saying that maybe that wasn't a penalty after all.
Okay, fair enough, but we've all heard of the make up call to correct a mistake, right? In a battle for the puck that ended up seeing Lyndon Martell hooked just behind the play and go down, there was no call made and seconds later the Chilliwack Chiefs scored the tying goal. Again the referee came over to the bench and explained that although he saw Martell on the ice he couldn't be sure how that whole play developed.
A perfect chance to even things up, never was. If there was a penalty call made the play would have stopped, the faceoff would have gone down into the Chiefs end of the ice, Gilliam would have had to stay in the net and there would be one minute for the Spruce Kings to kill off to claim the win. As it was the teams would now head to overtime tied 2-2 instead.
In the extra time the Spruce Kings best player on the night was called for a hook after lifting his stick up against a Chiefs player and barely making contact. The Chiefs forward still got the pass he wanted towards the net and the shot on goal that Kirk Thompson turned aside. But the call was made putting Bryant Christian in the penalty box, giving the Chiefs a 4-on-3 to finish out the game with. The play allowed the newly acquired Phillip Zielonka to play the overtime hero on an ugly goal that flipped up and over Thompson.
The Spruce Kings were rightfully sour afterwards and a show of support from the Spruce Kings fans as well as the Chiefs fans indicated that a lot of people believed that the Spruce Kings were denied a win that they deserved. Either way, Prince George will have to put this behind them and look forward to their next game - Saturday night against the Coquitlam Express.
The Express are coming off an overtime win against the Merritt Centennials and will be looking to keep that rolling against Prince George. Game time is 7pm with the game broadcast on 93.1 CFIS-FM as well as the Spruce Kings channel and

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