This Saturday marks the final game of the regular season for the Prince George Spruce Kings and the final regular season game of four players on the team. All four have made an impact on the city of Prince George and all admit that they will carry with them memories of the city, the fans, the team and the building they have called home.
For two of those players, the Coliseum has been home to their entire Junior A career while two others were brought in for their final season of junior hockey. From a couple of trade acquisitions to a pair of three year vets - all four have wore the crown with pride and brought the home town fans to their edge of the seats and off them.
Although he is the oldest of the four players, Shayne Morrissey's time in Prince George is the shortest. Acquired in an early season trade, Morrissey brought with him an impressive resume that included 190 Junior A games played with 102 goals and 130 assists. Playing with the Prince George Spruce Kings, Morrissey has been climbing the leader board and has found himself in the team's top four with 19 goals and 16 assists.
Morrissey's is a community minded player and has given much of his time to helping minor hockey teams in Prince George.
Coltyn Hansen was an off-season acquistion from the Victoria Grizzlies and has proven to be a huge asset for the Prince George Spruce Kings. Hansen has used his speed to his advantage throughtout the season; it is not uncommon to see #10 flying down the wing on a breakaway chance. Currently the leading points getter for the team with 20 goals and 27 assists this season, Hansen also has 19 goals and 17 assists from his previous year in the BCHL.
Knocking on wood as I count Saturday's game in the stats, Hansen has only missed out on one game this season versus the West Kelowna Warriors when a number of players were out with the flu.
The next two players both come from the Lower Mainland and came to the Prince George Spruce Kings to try their luck at making the lineup through the team's training camps. Both players have been leaders both on the ice and in the dressing room, but only one wears a letter.
The unanimous choice for the captiancy this year was Trevor Esau who has embraced the role and taken the job to heart leading by example on the ice. Although he doesn't lay claim to being the most offensive player on the team, Esau leads the team in many other categories including a few of the coach's favourites.
Coach Dave Dupas will be one of the first to sing the praises of Esau especially when it comes to the contributions on the ice in the area of blocked shots. All season long the Spruce Kings have kept track of this stat and have watched as Esau has taken away scoring chances with over 250 shots going off his shin pads or elsewhere in his equipment.
One player who appreciates that sacrifice is the Spruce Kings goaltender Kirk Thompson who has had an exceptional season between the pipes. This year Thompson has set a four team records including 2747 minutes played in a single season, 6646 career minutes played for the Spruce Kings, 24 wins in a single season and 46 franchise wins. Thompson will also finish in the top ten for both single season and franchise records for goals against average and save percentage.
It has been a treat watching all four of these players this season and especially watching the evolution of Trevor Esau and Kirk Thompson. From a pair of young rookies getting their break in the BCHL to becoming fan favourites around the league, these two players become focal points for other team's coaches and players. I, for one, certainly wish our graduating players all the best in their future hockey careers and thank them for all they have done for the Prince George Spruce Kings.