Called the quick turn-around game, there may be no advantage to either team in today's BCHL meeting between the Prince George Spruce Kings and the Langley Rivermen. For their first meeting against each other this season, a 2pm matinee in Langley, the Spruce Kings and the Rivermen will have to come ready to play after both teams played in seventy minute games the night before.
In two separate games last night both teams found themselves in a tie after regulation time after their opponents scored in the third to force overtime. The Spruce Kings had a first period lead of 2-1 flip flop into a come-from-behind situation that saw them claim a 4-3 lead on a pair of back-to-back goals sixteen seconds apart off the stick of Brent Lashuk. With a little over five minutes remaining, the Surrey Eagles scored the tying goal and after that neither team could find the back of the net in a game that ended in a 4-4 tie.
Meanwhile over in Langley, the Rivermen held on tight to a 1-0 lead off a shorthanded goal scored early in the second period only to find themselves in a tie situation when the Penticton Vees scored five minutes into the third period. Goals were at a premium in Langley last night with both teams having to settle for the single point in a 1-1 tie through two extra periods of overtime hockey. In the BCHL, those overtime periods are played as five minute sudden victory periods with the first featuring a 4-on-4 man situation and the second a 3-on-3.
Normally it can be expected that a 3-on-3 becomes a fast back and forth affair with both teams ending up with odd man rushes and breakaways. There really was none of that last night as both teams played each other close and could only muster up a few real chances in the game. In Langley, the home team gambled big and actually pulled their goaltender for the final thirteen seconds with a faceoff in the Penticton end. This is a huge gamble in the BCHL, because if the Vees had scored into the empty net, the Rivermen would have forfeited the extra point (Rule 209.5).
After last night's game results, the Langley Rivermen (9-4-1-1) moved one point up on the Coquitlam Express (8-5-0-2), who lost in regulation time to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Prince George Spruce Kings (7-7-1-1) retain third in the Mainland Division two points behind the Express and a single point up on the Surrey Eagles (7-8-1-0). The Chilliwack Chiefs (2-7-1-2) also picked up a single point last night in an overtime loss to the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
Heading into today's game, both teams can expect to be a little tired after their respective games finished closer to 10pm. The Spruce Kings had to make the short drive from Surrey back to Langley and set up their gear around 11pm in the Langley Events Centre, hoping to get a little more shuteye and rest before making their appearance at noon for the 2pm game.
The Rivermen struggled for offense last night whereas the Spruce Kings scored four goals in a game for the fourth time this season. The Spruce Kings got goals from Bryant Christian*, Chad Staley and a pair from Brent Lashuk - the asterisk beside Christian's name is because the goal currently shows as Cole Todd's, but after the game Todd confirmed that the goal was not his and that the Spruce Kings would have to submit a goal scoring change to the League so that it can be corrected.
The team defence that we have come to know from the Spruce Kings returned for last night's game and was highly effective keeping the free wheeling Surrey Eagles to just 27 shots through seventy minutes of play. As we also come to see, the defence themselves were active and got up on the play lots. Christian Weidauer helped set up the game's first goal; Mitch Eden, Karan Toor, Danny Kiraly and Skylar Pacheco all had offensive chances on the rush while the forwards came back strong on the back check and protecting the points when the defence did jump up.
While the Spruce Kings strength comes from below the blue line, the Langely Rivermen have been finding the net from all four lines. Ten of their twelve goal scorers are all forwards led by Mitch McLain (5G, 11A), Will Cook (4G, 8A) and James Robinson (3G, 8A). Also with double digits to start the season is Austin Azurdia (7G, 3A) with his team leading seven goals. Nathan Craft (5G, 2A) has five goals himself and will be a threat today playing against his home town team. Craft has suited up for the Prince George Spruce Kings in two prior games as an affiliate player in his days with the Cariboo Cougars.
The game could be an interesting one where fatigue could be an determining factor in the final outcome. The Langley Rivermen and the Prince George Spruce Kings matchup is one of six on a busy Sunday BCHL schedule. The Chilliwack Chiefs are also in action while the Coquitlam Express and Surrey Eagles will be scoreboard watching today. Game time is 2pm with the game being broadcast live online with the pay-per-view feed available on Fasthockey.com and a free online audio only broadcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr channel beginning with the pregame show at 1:40pm.