|Jesse Jenks and the Spruce Kings were undersiege in the|
2nd and 3rd periods but came away with a 7-4 win
Although it is going to take a BCHL review of a goal, Chad Staley's hat trick proves to be too much for the Merritt Centennials to overcome as the Spruce Kings post a 7-4 win Thursday night in Prince George.
There is no video review during a game but afterwards the League can review all goals and make any necessary scoring changes. Staley will have to wait for this process to happen before he will be able to see his first official BCHL hat trick on the score sheet. In the meantime the entire team will get to enjoy a night off before getting back to it on Saturday night when they take on the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
On Thursday night, the Spruce Kings opened the scoring early in the first period on their first powerplay chance. Although they had some issues getting the 5-on-4 to work, it would be the top line of Staley, Jeremiah Luedtke and Brent Lashuk that figured it out before the man advantage ended. Staley carried the puck into the zone before passing it off to Luedtke who took the initial shot. The rebound came out to Lashuk who also had an attempt at the shot with the puck coming out to the slot for Staley to put behind Russell Sanderson.
The Spruce Kings would make a 2-0 game shortly afterwards on a broken play that was started by Donovan Law, the affiliate player called up earlier in the day. After it was determined following the morning skate that Riley Hawes would not be able to go for the evening, the call was made for Law to join the Spruce Kings for that night. Law is currently playing for the 100 Mile House Wranglers of the KIJHL and made the four hour drive to Prince George.
Playing on a line with Sean Landrey and Matt Painchaud, Law picked up the puck on the left wing and fired a pass to Landrey through centre ice. As Landrey went in to the offensive zone, his original shot was blocked and bounced towards the slot with Landrey following behind. With a quick slap at the puck it became a knuckler that flew past the glove side of Sanderson at 10:39 of the first period.
For the 3-0 goal, the Spruce Kings can thank Jesse Jenks for turning aside three big Merritt chances. With the Centennials battling for the puck in the Prince George end, Christian Weidauer was able to dig the puck out to Bryant Christian who took off down the ice with Brent Lashuk and Justin Rai on the rush. Christian chipped the puck off the wall to Lashuk who carried it in to the right side faceoff circle before centering the puck for Rai to bury his third of the season.
At 17:12 of the first period, the Spruce Kings stretched their lead over the visitors to four on a powerplay goal scored on their second man advantage of the game. The powerplay started with a shorthanded chance for the Merritt Centennials that was broken up by Skylar Pacheco. The three year veteran on the blue line was able to get the powerplay headed in the right direction and setup in the offensive zone. Brogan O'Brien found the puck on the right wall and skated around the perimeter before coming down the slot. The sixteen year old rookie's shot was stopped with the rebound going out to the left side to Pacheco who come down the wing and fired home his sixth of the season.
The first period was highlighted by some long stretches of play with few whistles and when the whistles did come they were either the result of goals or penalties; the BCHL time out never came until the 19 minute mark. The final minute saw the Spruce Kings with one more scoring chance when Brent Lashuk was sprung on the right side. After twenty minutes, the Spruce Kings had a 4-0 lead and led on the shot clock 11-9.
To start the second period, Devin Kero replaced Russell Sanderson between the pipes and the rest of the team took everything they could to the Prince George end of the ice firing shot after shot on Jesse Jenks. The pressure applied led to a couple of penalties that the Centennials were able to capitalize on to make the game close. The Spruce Kings seemed to be on their heels for a majority of that second period and were holding onto a 4-2 lead until the line of Staley, Luedtke and Lashuk fired up their engines again.
Late in that second period Staley would find the goal post on a hard shot from the right side. On their very next shift, on a play that Mitch Eden setup to spring the trio, Luedtke was able to get a weak shot on goal that fooled Kero. The shot was stopped by not covered and as Staley came around from behind the net he found the loose puck and lifted it over the glove of Kero. The goal was originally credited to another player but the video clearly shows it was Staley's sixth of the season.
The Spruce Kings went to the dressing room leading by three despite being outshot in the second period by a margin of 14-8 and 23-19 through forty minutes of play. Into the third period, the Centennials would pick up where they left off and be rewarded five minutes later with their third goal of the game and first one scored at even strength. The game would remain a 5-3 game for another nine minutes.
With the Spruce Kings trying to kill off another penalty, Chad Staley was sprung on a breakaway down the middle. Staley was caught by the Centennials defenceman who tried to take the shot away only to be called for interference leading to Staley being awarded a penalty shot. Staley took his time getting ready for his first ever penalty shot but as he picked up the puck at centre ice, the anticipation in the building grew. Staley came straight down the lane as he closed in the Centennials netminder, faked to his backhand before pulling it back to his forehand and sliding it past Kero.
Before the end of the game, the visitors would get a lucky bounce as a dump in shot from the point would literally bounce past Jesse Jenks giving Merritt a renewed source of optimism. Shortly after the ensuing puck drop, the Centennials opted for an extra attacker and pulled the goaltender. After stopping the initial attack, Karan Toor carried the puck to the centre ice line and fired at the open net only to hit the base of the right side post.
In the final minute the Spruce Kings would again find themselves hemmed in their own zone. Again it was Toor that found a way to get the puck out of the zone and continued to chase it down the right side wall winning the battle for the puck. Toor got that shot away and watched as the puck slid over the goal line giving the defenceman his third goal of the season and the Spruce Kings a 7-4 win over the visiting Centennials.
It was the second time this season that the Spruce Kings scored seven goals against an opponent on home ice, it was also the first win this season against the Merritt Centennials. More importantly the win with seven goals provides the team in the dressing room a great deal of relief knowing that they can score goals despite the absence of Jake LeBrun who still remains sidelined with his concussion. Since Brent Lashuk has returned to the lineup, the Spruce Kings have scored 15 goals after being held to just four in the four games when both Lashuk and LeBrun were out of the lineup.
The Spruce Kings will be looking for that trend to continue as they take on the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Saturday night in the Coliseum.