|A common scene between the Chiefs and the Spruce Kings|
with Kirk Thompson being run is one aspect of the game
that needs to be stopped
The Spruce Kings kick off their final ten games of the regular season with a stop at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack and a date with the Chiefs. Prince George finds themselves six points back of second place Chilliwack in what is a very competitive Mainland Division in the BCHL. The Chiefs are the one team that has proved to be the Spruce Kings arch nemesis this season with a disappointing 0-5-0-1 record in six meetings so far.
Ask the Spruce Kings coaching staff though and they will tell you that most of the games have been much closer than the stat may otherwise lead you to believe. Certainly there is one game in particular that Prince George feels they should have won if not for a stroke of bad luck in the dying minutes of a game where the Spruce Kings were leading 2-1. To hang on the what-ifs is not going to serve any purpose tonight, instead the Spruce Kings are going to have to come up with an effort similar to that of the Surrey Eagles last night.
Heading into the game versus the Surrey Eagles, Prince George had already secured the season series win with a record of 4 wins and 3 overtime losses. The Eagles came out on a mission to end that trend and did everything in their power to do just that. Likewise, Prince George has to step onto the ice at Prospera Centre with the same mission in mind - nothing less than a complete effort.
The Chilliwack Chiefs are a tough team that have shown they are not afraid to go hard to the net and even gamble with the officials not calling penalties against them for getting in the goalie's crease. In previous meetings, it was no surprise to see one or even two forecheckers running Kirk Thompson and not paying the price for it. I guess when you have the second best penalty kill in the League (85.21%) you can afford to gamble a little more than other teams can.
The Spruce Kings will have to be mindful of their own discipline as the Chiefs do have one of the most potent powerplays in the League firing with a conversion rate of better than 1 in 5 chances (22.07%). In comparison, Prince George finds themselves at the other end of the spectrum with a 16.08% powerplay conversion. In the penalty kill department, the Spruce Kings have shown that they are very aware of the Chiefs and have done a pretty good job shutting them down.
Taking a page from the Surrey Eagles playbook, the Spruce Kings are going to have to get in the dirty areas and make that first save a tough one for Mitch Gilliam to make. If Gilliam is going to give up rebounds, Prince George is going to have to be ready to bang home the loose pucks and keep a strong forecheck going all night long. In last night's game, I don't think it was a case of bad play from the Spruce Kings but still Prince George will have to step it up another notch and get goal scoring from all over the depth chart.
The Spruce Kings will be without one of those key players that isn't afraid to get in the dirty areas as Jake LeBrun will be out of the lineup after suffering a lower body injury against the Eagles last night. Mitch Eden will be the other scratch tonight missing his second consecutive game also with a lower body injury. On the plus side, Sean Landrey and his big body will be back in the lineup and Dave Dupas will be looking to see him fill the role of the power forward looking to cause grief and make it tough on the Chilliwack Chiefs.
Kirk Thompson is expected to get the start tonight after getting a mercy pull last night. The Spruce Kings had just given up two shorthanded goals, both of them on bad bounces with the first one bouncing in off a defender's skate and the second one a bounce off the goal post that went right out to the neutral zone for a penalized player just stepping on the ice to pick up. Liam McLeod had come in as relief and was superb, even perfect, stopping all 18 shots he faced including a few on the doorstep.
Prince George will look to build on the positives from last night's game and put the bad bounces behind them as they take on the Chilliwack Chiefs tonight at 7pm in a likely first round playoff preview. The game will be broadcast on 93.1 CFIS-FM beginning with the Treasure Cove Casino pregame show at 6:35pm. The game will also be available for free online from the Spruce Kings MIXLR.com channel and as a pay-per-view feed from FASTHOCKEY.com. Following the game, the Spruce Kings will return home to prepare for a double header against the Langley Rivermen on February 14th and 15th. The Thursday game will be Ladies Night in the Castle with flowers for the first 100 ladies and a first ever contest for one lady to win a private shopping spree at Butterfly Threads with thanks to Tourism Prince George.