|Justin Rai (23) celebrates a goal|
vs the Langley Rivermen
photo courtesy Garret James
Happy Valentines Day and Ladies Night … tonight the Langley Rivermen have arrived in Prince George to face the Spruce Kings for the first time in the Castle this season. All previous matchups, and there have been five of them, have been played in the Lower Mainland. The first of which Prince George was considered the home team at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack, the remaining four games were all played in Langley.
The Langley Rivermen have the season series edge with points in every matchup with a winning record of 3-0-0-2 versus the Prince George Spruce Kings. Four of those games have provided elevated levels of excitement with twists and turns taking fans to the edge of their seats right down to the final buzzer.
It all started with that first game where Prince George erased two multiple goal deficits to force overtime and eventually claim the win in the extra frame. Game two was more of defensive battle with the Spruce Kings enjoying a 2-1 lead late into the third period. A pair of goals in the final five minutes turned that game into a regulation time loss for the Prince George Spruce Kings.
The following night became memorable for all the wrong reasons for Prince George. In that game, the Spruce Kings erased a 3-0 deficit and were looking at taking the game to overtime when Austin Azurdia scored that memorable goal with less than a second remaining in regulation time to win the game 4-3.
In the fourth meeting of the season, the Spruce Kings answered every goal scored by the Langley Rivermen to force overtime where Mitch Eden was able to play the role of hero. Meeting number five didn’t go very well for the Spruce Kings with Prince George suffering their worse loss to the Rivermen on November 2nd.
Tonight’s game will be the first meeting since that 5-1 loss. Since then the Spruce Kings have landed in third place in the Mainland Division and are only four points (a combination of Prince George points gained or Coquitlam points missed) from clinching a playoff berth. The Langley Rivermen sit in fourth spot and are eight points back challenging for that playoff position.
The Langley Rivermen arrive with a full complement of players and will be able to dress twenty of their regular rostered players including the BCHL scoring leader, Mario Puskarich (31G, 35A). Evan Campbell (13G, 34A) and Austin Azurdia (17G, 15A) are next on the Rivermen’s leader board.
On the flip side, the Spruce Kings are a little thin in their roster and will be without Kevin Guiltinan who will be serving the first of a two game suspension for a check from behind. Also out of the lineup tonight will be Jeremiah Luedtke who is recovering after being the recipient of a dangerous hit in the Spruce Kings last game. Karan Toor is also out with an undisclosed injury which brings in Stephen Penner (’95) from the Cariboo Cougars to fill the vacancy on the blue line.
Game time tonight is 7pm with Ron St. Clair providing the play-by-play on 93.1 CFIS-FM. The game will also be available online with the free audio broadcast from the Spruce Kings MIXLR.com and as a pay-per-view broadcast from FASTHOCKEY.com. These same two teams will be back on the ice in the Coliseum for the conclusion of this double header matchup Friday night.