Sunday, March 3, 2013

Game Preview: vs Langley Rivermen

Sean Landrey (18) will be a welcome addition to the
Spruce Kings lineup today vs the Rivermen

It is the final regular season matchup between the Langley Rivermen and the Prince George Spruce Kings today. This matchup has been one full of stories, twists, turns and when the final whistle blows nothing may have been decided between these two. The Langley Rivermen have 10 points (4-2-0-2) and the Spruce Kings 8 points (4-4-0-0) in head-to-head meetings this season.

Last night the Spruce Kings clinched third place in the Mainland Division with their win over the Rivermen. The win was the second consecutive one against the Rivermen, but it may have come at a high cost as two game changing players were put on the shelf after suffering injuries in the game.

Jace Hennig was the first to go down after he was caught from behind and hit into the end boards on a play that never resulted in a penalty. Hennig went down and was slow to get up, requiring assistance to make it to the dressing room. Hennig seemed to be okay and returned to the game moments later to a round of applause from the Prince George fans on hand. After the adrenaline of the game wore off, Hennig informed the team that things weren’t right and the decision was made immediately not to risk further complications.

Shortly after Hennig returned to the ice, Cameron Lawson was seen leaving for the dressing room with Bill Baldridge, the team’s trainer right behind him. Lawson did not return to the game, but was seen afterwards still at the rink in his suit and tie. He too informed the team of his ailments and it was clear that he would not be available for today’s game with an injury that may have him sidelined for the season finale next weekend as well.

In the third period there was more concern for the Spruce Kings when rookie forward took a hard hit along the side wall while trying to clear a puck out of the zone. After a couple of second laying on the ice, Staley was able to recover his breathe after having the air knocked out of him and stayed in the game.

On the other side of the ice today, the Langley Rivermen are expected to be healthy and rested. After the long overnight bus trip to get to Prince George, the team will have welcomed a proper night’s rest. In Saturday’s loss to Prince George, the Rivermen did everything they could in the second period to tie the game but getting to within one on a shot from Mario Puskarich was all they could come up with.

Kirk Thompson played unbelievably in last night's win and on more than one occasion added highlight reel saves to his resume. The performance between the pipes allowed Prince George to stem the tide and Coltyn Hansen took the wind out of the visitor’s sails with a solo effort late in the second period. After picking the pocket of the defenceman on the point, Hansen batted the puck off the wall for himself and flew down the right side wall before picking the top corner short side on the Langley netminder.

One player who will be ready to go for today's game is Sean Landrey who had to sit and watch while serving a two game suspension for a blow to the head in a game one week ago today in Coquitlam. Landrey and the eight other forwards on the team will have to expect some extra ice time as Dave Dupas will have to roll three lines with a few defenceman getting some time up front in the game. Mitch Eden is a likely candidate for that role as he has the ability to carry the puck the length of the ice and make plays happen with some nice foot work and stick handling.

Liam McLeod is expected to get the start today and has been showing that he is a very capable goaltender. In his last start, McLeod kept his team in the game for fifty minutes but ultimately took the loss when Prince George could not find any offense against the Coquitlam Express.

Speaking of Coquitlam, that team could have a role to play in this game today. With a start time one hour earlier, the Express will be hosting the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in a game featuring two teams fighting to find a playoff berth. If the Express win they will be sitting just three points back of the Langley Rivermen watching the third period of this game from their dressing room.

The Langley Rivermen can end it for Coquitlam and clinch that fourth playoff spot in the Mainland Division with a win today over Prince George. As mentioned earlier, the Spruce Kings clinched third place last night and now know they will start the first round of the playoffs on the road in Chilliwack with game one on March 15th. Game two will also be at Prospera Centre on Saturday March 16th with the teams returning to Prince George for game three on March 18th. If a game four is required it will be played in the Coliseum on Tuesday March 19th and a fifth and deciding game is scheduled for Wednesday March 20th back in the Fraser Valley.

But that is two weekends away, today it is game number 55 of a 56 game regular season and the season series finale with the Langley Rivermen. Game time is 3pm with a full broadcast available online only! There will be no radio broadcast, but Ron St. Clair, Todd Doherty and Peter James will have all the pre-game, post game and action between the whistles starting at 2:35pm on the Spruce Kings channel and as a pay-per-view video broadcast through Following the game today, fans who remembered to bring their skates with them will get to skate with the Spruce Kings.

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