Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Luedtke Lob for the Win

Jesse Jenks (1) was on his game turning aside 26 of 27 shots
photo courtesy Garrett James Photography

The Prince George Spruce Kings finished their three game road trip with a 3-1 win over the Langley Rivermen and moved up a notch in the Mainland Division Sunday afternoon. Jeremiah Luedtke scored first on the power play, then he setup Chad Staley for the eventual game winner in the first period and capped off a first star bid scoring on a break away late in the third.

The line of Luedtke, Staley and Brent Lashuk carried much of the play for the Spruce Kings creating chance after chance all game long. Justin Rai, Bryant Christian, Brogan O'Brien and Cole Todd all created offensive chances as well. When the Spruce Kings weren't in control of the puck, the defense did a great job of minimizing chances for the Rivermen. Jesse Jenks did the rest turning aside all but one shot on goal.

The Spruce Kings started early with pressure in the offensive zone. In the opening minutes, Luedtke fed a back door pass through the crease to Rai, who came down from the face off circle only to be stopped by the big pad of Steve Myland. The Spruce Kings kept pressing for th first goal and would draw the first power play of the game.

With Lashuk working the left faceoff circle and Staley and Luedtke causing grief for the penalty killers with the cycling. Lashuk fired a shot on net that settled in the blue paint just out of the reach of the netminder. When Myland made the decision to go for the puck, in an effort to cover it with his glove, Luedtke reached in and poked the puck under Myland. The goal was the second on the season for the returning forward and the first power play goal for the Spruce Kings on the weekend.

A few minutes later the Langley Rivermen would have their best chance of the period when Jakob Reichert would bust in through the middle and fire a bullet off the glove side goal post on Jesse Jenks. The Spruce Kings went the other way shortly after that on an odd man rush with Lashuk carrying the puck. Lashuk fired a shot on goal with Chad Staley going hard to the net, the defender on the play tried to hold up Staley and everybody crashed in on the goalie knocking Myland into the back of his net.

Staley was quick to get out of the crease and found the puck, his first attempt bounced back to him off the bodies on the ice. Staley grabbed the loose puck and stepped back giving himself room to lift it up and over the still down and out Rivermen defender and goaltender. There was some thought that the whistle should have blown the play dead, but the puck remained loose the entire time and it was only a Rivermen defender that made it impossible for the goalie to get back into position.

The Spruce Kings would hold onto their 2-0 lead out shooting the Langley Rivermen 11-7 through the first period of play. The Spruce Kings out shot the Rivermen again 10-8 in the second period with both teams trading chances and a pair of power play opportunities including a two man advantage for over a minute for Langley.

Mitch Eden took the first penalty,  a tripping mior at 7:33. While killing off that one, Skylar Pacheco lost his stick and tried using his glove to clear the zone. Instead the glove cupped the puck and Pacheco ended up clearing it up and over the glass with 1:07 still remaining in Eden's minor. The Rivermen were unable to muster much of anything getting only one shot on goal from the outside.

As Eden got back into the play he setup the first of two shorthanded chances and the Spruce Kings would continue to apply pressure as they got back to full strength.  The defensive game and the offensive chances led to some frustration on the part of the home team who took back-to-back penalties late in the period including a boarding call that saw Chad Staley hit from behind face first into the dasher and corner glass. Fortunately for Staley and the Spruce Kings, the dynamo vet was okay and stayed on the ice to take his turn on the power play.

Neither team was able to score in the second period and the game remained a 2-0 lead for Prince George after forty minutes of play. To start the third period, the Rivermen came out hungry for their first goal and a chance to get back in the game. Their aggressive start led to a couple more power play chances. The first was when Matt Painchaud slashed the stick out of the hands of Mitch McLain as the Rivermen's leading scorer was cruising through the slot and about to pick up the puck.

The Spruce Kings killed off that penalty but couldn't kill off the next one as Bryant Christian sat in the sin bin on a holding call at 5:55. Sixteen seconds on a broken play, the Rivermen were on the board. James Robinson lost the puck trying to set up in the right corner only to have it kicked back over to him. With players scrambling to get back in to position, Robinson spotted Jakob Reichert coming down the slot and passed him the puck. Reichert took one look and blasted a shot past Jenks to get the Rivermen to within one of the vistors.

For the next twelve minutes,  much of the play would be on the Spruce Kings half of the ice with puck going back and forth over the blue line. With time becoming a factor and the Langley bench looking to get the right players on the ice and the goalie to the bench, Christian Weidauer lobbed a high dump out pass that was intended to clear the zone while avoiding the icing call.

The Spruce Kings, who had at least one bounce go their way in the first,  would get another. The Langley Rivermen defencemen got caught changing as the puck landed at centre ice.  Luedtke skated up on it and broke in on a two-on-none with Lashuk joining in on the left side. Luedtke kept the puck the whole way and then lifted it over Myland's glove into the top corner giving Prince George a 3-1 lead with 1:25 remaining in the third.

The frustration that had been brewing all game finally came out on the next play when a dump-in got caught up in Eden's jersey.  No less than three Langley players started swinging their sticks trying to dislodge the puck. Weidauer quickly got in there to break it up, pulling Reichert out. The two would end up with roughing after the whistle penalties and ten minute misconducts. Austin Azurdia, who was talking with Eden after the whistle,  ended up with a game misconduct after he went after Alex Murray on the Spruce Kings bench.

On the following faceoff Charlie Pelnik slashed Staley and was given a minor and a misconduct for the infraction. That would be the extent of the extracurricular activities as the Spruce Kings registered their eighth win of the season and join the Coquitlam Express in second place in the Mainland Division,  both teams have 18 points. The win also sets up an interesting return to the Langley Events Centre on November 2nd.

The Spruce Kings return home for a pair of games beginning with the Merritt Centennials on Thursday and the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Saturday night. Thursday's game is the second Prince George Motors Feature Game of the Month on 99.3 the Drive. Ron St.Clair will hace the call of the game on the Drive. Prior to that the Spruce Kings will participate in the Inside Ride to raise funds for Camp Goodtimes in support of children suffering from cancer.

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