Friday, March 1, 2013

Vipers Slither Past Spruce Kings In 2OT

Liam Board (28) came back to the Coliseum and led
the Vernon Vipers to a 5-4 win over PG in overtime

The Prince George Spruce Kings entered the final homestand of the regular season seeking consistency heading into the playoffs, but Friday it was inconsistency that was their undoing in a 5-4 double overtime loss to the Vernon Vipers.

The extra session hasn't been friendly to the Spruce Kings all season and they got bitten again Friday at the Coliseum when Brendan Persley converted at 4:23 of the second OT session to give the desperate a Vipers a win. After Bryant Christian charged to the net for the Spruce Kings but was unable to score, Persley led a 3-on-1 rush the other way for Vernon. He faked a pass which froze Spruce Kings goaltender Kirk Thompson and then fired home the game winner.

Although Vernon had the lead three times during regulation, it was Prince George who carried the play much of the game. Yet the home side wasn't able to capitalize on its chances, including a power play in the first overtime period, and lost for the third time in four games to a team who will likely finish the season outside of the playoffs.

Former Spruce King Liam Board, the game's first star, step up the first goal with a strong forecheck in the first period. His work along the boards led to Andrew Tegeler getting the puck alone in front and Tegeler was able to beat Thompson with a quick shot at 4:20.

The Spruce Kings evened the score with a power-play tally at 9:59. Cameron Lawson used speed to gain the zone and set up Justin Rai and Jake LeBrun in front. After a couple of whacks at it, Rai was credited with the goal after knocking the puck up and over Vipers' starter Austin Smith.

The score was tied for less than a shift as Vernon came right back. Board took advantage of a defensive zone break down in the Prince George end and fired a centering pass to Mason Blacklock, who fired home his first of two on the night at 10:28.

The Vipers took that 2-1 lead into the first intermission, but just 1:38 into the second Shayne Morrissey got the Spruce Kings back on even terms when he converted a 3-on-2 with Rai and LeBrun. Morrissey and Rai almost collided as they crossed the blue-line, but LeBrun was patient and when Morrissey got open he dropped the puck back to the trailer and Morrissey's shot snuck past Smith.

Once again the Vipers came right back to take the lead with Persley scoring at 3:08 to give the Vipers their third lead of the hockey game.

Prince George finally got some momentum going in the middle stages of the second with Lyndon Martell and Dairy Queen player of the game Jace Hennig scoring less than a minute apart to give Prince George its first - and only - lead of the game. Martell's goal at 9:03 came off a nice give and go with David Stephens. Kevin Guiltinan also picked up a helper.

Hennig lit the lamp at 10:01 off another nice passing play, Lawson and Christian got the assists on that one.

The Vipers drew even late in the third on a nice individual effort in front of the net by Blacklock. He needed a couple of tries to beat Thompson at 18:28, but his unassisted goal did draw things even.

Neither team was able to muster much of an attack in the third, which brought the game to extra time.

The point for the overtime loss helps the Spruce Kings stay five points ahead of the Langley Rivermen, who will make the trip up to Prince George for a doubleheader to close the weekend. The Spruce Kings can clinch at least third place in the Mainland Division by sweeping Langley on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at the Castle.

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