The Prince George Spruce Kings will be looking to capitalize on their recent offensive gains as they entertain the Cowichan Valley Capitals tonight. This is the second of three meetings between these two teams this season. The Capitals took the first game 4-3 during the BCHL Showcase. After tonight’s game in Prince George, the two won’t see each other again until January 18, 2014 in Duncan.
During the Showcase, the Spruce Kings outshoot the Capitals 29-14 and built up a 3-1 lead only to have it slip away in the third. The Spruce Kings learned that no lead in hockey can be considered safe. The game winning goal came on a powerplay in the last minute of play and for one player, that was another hard lesson learned.
Since that first game of the season, both teams have compiled almost identical records and sit second in their respective divisions. The Capitals have played one extra game and have a record of 10 wins, 8 losses and 1 overtime loss for 21 points in 19 games. The Spruce Kings record sits at 20 points with 9 wins, 7 losses, 1 tie and 1 overtime loss.
The Cowichan Valley Capitals were in Chilliwack last night and came away with a narrow 2-1 regulation time win. The game was highlighted by the goaltenders who stole the show led by the Capitals goaltender, Robin Gusse who turned aside 38 of 39 shots while the team in front of him took 37 shots.
The Spruce Kings are also coming off a win, a 7-4 win over the Merritt Centennials on Thursday night that saw Chad Staley record his first BCHL career hat trick. Staley scored in each period starting with a powerplay goal in the first, an evenstrength goal in the last minute of the second and capped it all off with a shorthanded penalty shot goal in the third.
The manner in which Prince George won was significant given their early October offensive struggles after losing both Brent Lashuk and Jake LeBrun. While those two were out of the lineup, the team only mustered five goals in four games. Although LeBrun remains out of the lineup, the Spruce Kings have welcomed the return of Lashuk scoring 15 goals in their last four games.
Chad Staley and Jeremiah Luedtke have been playing on a line with Brent Lashuk and that has turned into some magic for all three and the fans in the stands. In the last four games Staley has picked up 7 points (5G, 2A) and has taken over top spot on the team’s leader board. Luedtke has exploded offensively with 8 points in the last 4 games (2G, 6A) while Lashuk has added 4 more points for the line (2G, 2A).
The Spruce Kings leaderboard is starting to light up like a Christmas tree with three players sitting in top spot tied with 15 points. Staley (7G, 8A) leads with the most goals followed by Bryant Christian (5G, 10A) and Christian Weidauer (4G, 11A). Brent Lashuk (4G, 10A) is one point back followed by the CJHL 3rd star for the month of September, Jake LeBrun (8G, 5A). Jeremiah Luedtke (3G, 7A) and Karan Toor (3G, 7A) round out players with double digits while Skylar Pacheco (6G, 3A), Justin Rai (3G, 6A) and Mitch Eden (1G, 8A) are all poised to hit that mark.
Prince George will have three scratches and one affiliate player in the lineup tonight. Jake LeBrun is still expected to miss another two weeks as he recovers from a concussion, Caleb Thompson is now considered day-to-day and is hoping to make a return to the ice soon. The third scratch tonight is a healthy one as Jesse Jenks is now in Calgary at the Team Canada West Selection Camp battling to get his name on the final roster for the World Junior A Challenge in Yarmouth, NS November 4th to 10th.
The lone addition to the roster tonight is a young goaltender that many fans in Prince George ranked high on their future stars list. Bailey DePalma is a 16 year old that fought hard through the team's main camp and intra-squad games coming up with some highlight reel saves. The play of DePalma left a buzz in the city when it was announced that he had been placed on the team's reserve roster and assigned to the Thompson Blazers of the BC Major Midget League.
The game tonight is scheduled to start at 7pm and will be broadcast live tonight as a pay-per-view feed on Fasthockey.com and as a free audio online broadcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr channel beginning with the pregame show at 6:40pm.