Saturday, February 23, 2013

Game Preview: at Chilliwack Chiefs

Coltyn Hansen (10) and Cameron Lawson (7)
lead the Spruce Kings scoring race

The Spruce Kings head into Chilliwack tonight for their final regular season matchup. A divisional matchup that is expected to turn into a first round playoff preview. The Chiefs sit in second spot with 62 points (30-19-1-1) while the Spruce Kings hold down third with 54 points (23-19-1-7).

In the month of February, the Chiefs have had their fair share of struggles with a record of 3-5 including one loss to the Prince George Spruce Kings the last time these two teams met. The Chiefs are still a very good team and are especially dangerous when given the chance to put out their special teams unit. They are the best powerplay team in the Mainland Division (22.18% - 2nd in the League) and the best penalty killing team in the League (85.76%). They also have the most short hand goals for in the League with 9, although the Spruce Kings are second in this stat with 8 after last night's short handed tally by Bryant Christian.

Two of the three members on the Chiefs top line are challenging Mario Puskarich (38G, 40A, 78Pts) for the Brett Hull Trophy (awarded to the League's top scorer - Spruce Kings Paul De Jersey won it last year with 98 points). In second and third places are Luke Esposito and Austin Plevy with 69 (16G, 53A) and 68 (29G, 39A) points respectfully. The newest addition to that line, Philip Zielonka has a little more room to make up sitting in 13th spot overall with 54 points (32G, 22A).

Coltyn Hansen remains the Spruce Kings leading scorer with 42 points (17G, 25A) after adding two more helpers last night. Cameron Lawson, who missed the entire first period of Friday's game with an equipment issue, was held off the scoresheet but remains in second with 38 points (20G, 18A). Mitch Eden sits in third with 34 points (2G, 32A) with Shayne Morrissey closing in for a top three finish after scoring the Spruce Kings short lived go-ahead goal last night (17G, 13A). Rounding out the top five is Lyndon Martell (10G, 19A, 29Pts) who is also the best performing player against the Chilliwack Chiefs averaging a point a game in five appearances against the team.

Tonight marks the first time that the Spruce Kings will play in Prospera Centre without Jeremiah Luedtke in the lineup after he suffered an upper body injury as a result of a hit by Ryan Donohoe in the second period on February 9th. In that game Kevin Guiltinan was also assessed a game misconduct that resulted in a two game suspension after a first period hit on Mathieu Tibbet. In back-to-back games against the Chiefs, Guiltinan received majors that led to suspensions which puts him squarely on the radar for the Chilliwack Chiefs.

For the Spruce Kings to be successful tonight, they will have to play a disciplined but physical game as this matchup can be summed up with the three words that make League officials cringe - Old Time Hockey. Both teams will be fired up and ready to go after suffering losses last night and of course because of the history between these two teams. I don't think the job of the coaches tonight will be trying to find the gas pedal but rather it will be to keep the brakes on to make sure this very likely first round playoff matchup doesn't speed out of control before it even starts.

Game time tonight is 7pm from Prospera Centre in Chilliwack. Ron Gallo will have the broadcast beginning with the pregame show at 6:35pm on 93.1 CFIS-FM. The game will also be available for free on the Spruce Kings channel and as a pay-per-view feed on Following the game, the Spruce Kings will head back to their home base in the Lower Mainland to prepare for a quick turnaround and rematch against the Coquitlam Express that gets underway at 2pm Sunday.

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