Saturday, March 16, 2013

Playoff Game Preview: Game 2 at Chilliwack Chiefs

Spruce Kings celebrate after a Game One 3-1 victory

After taking game one in this best of five series, the Prince George Spruce Kings will be back in Prospera Centre looking to see if they can take a stranglehold on this short series. Game one is huge, no question, but it's the first team to three wins that will advance to the Mainland Divisional finals.

Certainly the Chilliwack Chiefs have to be thinking of that right now and feel, despite the loss on Friday night, that they played a good game and had a legitimate chance at winning. The Chiefs came at the Spruce Kings in waves and outshot Prince George from the start to the end of the game.

The Chiefs had eight shots on Kirk Thompson before the Spruce Kings registered their first - a long dump in shot by the captain from centre ice. Chilliwack would have registered more shots if it weren't for the likes of Trevor Esau getting down and blocking shots or deflecting them away from the Prince George goal.

When the first period BCHL timeout hit at 10:59, the Spruce Kings were trailing on the shot clock 10-1. Whatever Dave Dupas, Brad Rihela and Jason Garneau said on the bench worked though as the Spruce Kings came out with three solid back-to-back-to-back shifts resulting in three quality scoring chances.

Jeremiah Luedtke (14) with the Spruce Kings first
good scoring chance in game one vs Chilliwack.

The first was from Jeremiah Luedtke who was playing in his first game back in Prospera Centre after being hit from behind on January 23rd by Ryan Donohoe. Luedtke flew down the right side wing and fired a quick wrister in on Mitch Gillam that snuck through the equipment just grazing the outside of the far post.

On the very next shift, Shayne Morrissey came down the same wing on a two-on-wing, taking the shot that was stopped by Gillam with the rebound coming right back out to Morrissey but bounced past his stick. The third shift belonged to Karan Toor who's original shot from the left point was blocked. Toor picked up the loose puck and moved through a couple of the defenders to the high slot before getting a shot on Gillam.

The Spruce Kings looked to be taking over some momentum when the lights went out in Prospera Centre. When the game resumed, the Chiefs found three more shots on Kirk Thompson for a first period total of 18-5. Most of those shots were coming from the Chiefs top guns of Luke Esposito, Philip Zielonka and Austin Plevy. Some of the shots were coming from the points too with Cooper Rush, David Thompson and Alexander Perron-Fontaine.

The barrage continued all night long from the Chiefs who ended up with a total of 44 shots on goal but only one that counted. Matthieu Tibbet was the benefactor of a forced turnover by Brodyn Nielsen late in the game after the Spruce Kings had built up a 3-0 lead.

The Spruce Kings first goal came on the powerplay moments after the Chiefs had a glorious short handed opportunity off a two-on-one rush with Philip Zielonka feeding Luke Esposito the puck in the slot. Esposito got his stick on the puck redirecting the shot on Thompson who got enough of it to send it wide. At the other end David Stephens sent a puck on goal that deflected off Cameron Lawson's skate and in to give the Spruce Kings the first goal of the series.

In the third period Coltyn Hansen scored twice to put the game out of reach. The first goal was the result of Hansen's speed as he separated himeself from the pack and went hard to the net slipping a shot through Gillam. Hansen's second goal of the night came in the final minute of the third period and was a bit of a hail mary pass into the open net.

Certainly the Chiefs have to think they did everything they could have done in game one except score enough goals to win. How do you change that? Well expect the Chiefs to be getting in even tighter on Thompson looking for an ugly goal or deflection off a player in front. More than 44 shots shouldn't be a surprise tonight from a team that needs to find a win before heading north to Prince George.

The mission of the Spruce Kings will be to play another good road game with attention to detail especially in their own zone. A full team effort for blocking shots and not forgetting defensive assignments will be the key. For Prince George to head home up two games to none, they will have to show the patience they did last night and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. They too will have to think of getting traffic in front of Mitch Gillam and being prepared to pay the price to be in the dirty areas.

There are no significant changes expected in the lineup for the Spruce Kings who are without Justin Rai again tonight. I know in last night's broadcast I voiced concern over how the League would look at a penalty given to Kevin Guiltinan, but want to point out that the call on the ice was a minor for checking from behind and not a major. After reviewing the rule book, a minor is not subject to supplemental discipline and Guiltinan is fully expected to be in the lineup tonight.

The coaching staff may resort to a little line juggling after seeing a few things that they both liked and left them a little concerned. Sometimes it is hard to make changes when you win, but at the same time Prince George will have to be prepared for an even more determined Chilliwack Chiefs squad tonight.

Game time tonight is 7:00pm with the game broadcast live on 93.1 CFIS-FM beginning with a pregame show at 6:30pm. Free audio of the game will also be available online from the Spruce Kings channel and there is also the pay-per-view broadcast on Following the game, the Spruce Kings will head home and prepare for Game Three on Monday night in the Prince George Coliseum. The Spruce Kings office will be open from 10am to 2pm Sunday and again Monday from 9am to 5pm for anyone looking to purchase playoff tickets.

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