Saturday, November 9, 2013

Everything But a Winner

Karan Toor (10) lays out a heavy hit,
but it wasn't the heaviest hit of the game

In a game that featured literally everything, except a winner, the Prince George Spruce Kings extended their points in a game streak to eight games after settling for a 4-4 double overtime tie versus the Vernon Vipers. Chad Staley had a four point night picking up his second BCHL career hattrick and adding an assist, but that doesn't even compare to the exploding glass and fireworks late in the third period.

After a slow start to the game, everybody in the rink was commenting about how they had never seen a game with so much excitement and would have like to see this one go longer than it did. The first ten minutes of the game featured a single shot on goal by each team and no chances. To say this game was looking like a dud was an understatement as most of the play happened between the blue lines. During the BCHL timeout, somebody flicked a switch and the game immediately turned to one the fans and players won't soon forget.

A one-time member of the Prince George Spruce Kings, as a fifteen year old draft choice, provided the first real spark to the game. Tyler Povelofskie fired a shot into the Spruce Kings zone that bounced off the wall and came back at Alex Murray, bouncing through the goaltender that left the crease to play it. The puck landed in the crease and looked like an easy goal just waiting for Povelofskie to find, but Murray was able to dive back to the net and get a glove on it before that could happen. The Vernon Vipers forward fell on Murray and in the melee that followed, Skylar Pacheco received a two minute minor for high sticking.

The Vernon Vipers powerplay looked dangerous with cross crease passes and hard point shots, but Murray saw them all and stopped them all. The Vipers tallied five shots on goal during the powerplay and were looking for a sixth from the right point when Mark Hamilton (yes the player that hit Jake LeBrun) lost an edge and fell down unable to reach the puck. Chad Staley jumped on the loose puck and headed up the ice with only the linesman between him and the goaltender at the other end.

The official got caught in no-man's land and fortunately just froze in place about five feet from the boards. Staley took the outside lane to get around the official in front of the Vernon Vipers player's bench and then made his cut to net. The speed of Staley was too much for Austin Smith to handle and he couldn't get in good position as Staley found the top corner with a back hand flip. Staley's tenth goal of the season came with five seconds still remaining in Pacheco's penalty on just the second Prince George shot on goal at 14:27 of the opening period.

With the game now getting exciting to watch, the place was about to erupt. The Spruce Kings used that goal as a momentum shift and started on the attack again. On a play in the Vernon end, Braiden Epp lined up a defenceman against the back wall for a hit and did he hit him. The glass behind the net exploded leaving fragments of glass all over the ice behind the net and extending up four rows in the seats behind. The players were left with bits of glass in their equipment that had to be taken out.

This happened with 5:10 remaining in the opening period and at 7:30pm local time. It was thought that the delay would take about ten to fifteen minutes, leaving the players on the ice waiting to resume the play. Unfortunately it started to take a little longer than that to clean up the broken glass and then the wrong piece of glass came out. It was then decided that the players should go to the dressing room for an early first intermission break. In all the delay took just over an hour as the team's were brought back to resume play at 8:32pm.

The Spruce Kings would add two more shots in the last five minutes and the Vipers one in a period that took 90 minutes in all to play. In the second period, the Spruce Kings started to find their stride again and were getting some scoring chances that led to their first powerplay. Prince George controlled much of the man advantage and as they worked the puck around the perimeter and back to Karan Toor, it was the defenceman that took the big point shot only to have it blocked by his own guy. Chad Staley picked up the puck, looked at the net, saw the goaltender had gone down looking to make the save and fired into the top half of the net for his second goal of the game and eleventh of the game giving Prince George a 2-0 lead.

The Vernon Vipers would get that one back a few minutes later off a nice solo effort from Liam Coughlin who followed cut to the net from the left wall and outwaited Murray before lifting a back hander into the far top side corner. The goal gave the Vipers life and they started to come on leading to fluky goal from Povelofskie. Playing in his twentieth game of the season and in front of parents on parent's weekend in Vernon, Povelofskie drove hard to the net and had to retrieve the puck from below the goal line.

Looking to make a centring pass, he shot the puck out just as Spruce Kings defender Danny Kiraly dove feet first to block the pass. Unfortunately the puck would catch Kiraly's skate and was kicked towards the far side post where it just squeezed in over the line. There was a short conversation as to whether or not the puck actually crossed the line but it was counted, tieing the game at two goals a-piece. That's how the second period would end with Prince George credited with ten shots on goal for a two period total of 14 and Vernon getting eight more for a two period total of 16.

As all the other games in the BCHL were coming to a close, this one was just heading into the third period. Prince George would again put the pressure on the Vernon Vipers, hemming them in their own end. In a play that saw the puck roll along the dasher board from the corner to just before the glass ends at the Vipers bench, Jeremiah Luedtke grabbed it off the wall to keep the play alive. Luedtke was able to play the puck enough to get it to Chad Staley who came in and picked up the puck out of feet and then fed it across the ice to Christian Weidauer who came in off the right point untouched and fired in his fifth of the season giving the Spruce Kings back their lead.

The play would go back and forth with the Vernon Vipers getting the better of the chances, but again Alex Murray stood tall in net and would not give up that tying goal. The Spruce Kings would find themselves on their third powerplay of the game just past the midway mark of the third period. The Prince George powerplay looked impressive on this night and for 54 seconds Mitch Eden quarterbacked the man advantage from the top slot before finally getting the shot he wanted from the right point. The shot got through traffic and was laying in the paint between the feet of Staley who tapped it backwards between his feet and through the five hole of Smith to restore Prince George's two goal lead.

The Vernon Vipers would not go away and less than a minute later they had clawed their way back into this game with a shot that found its way through Murray at 13:07 to make it a 4-3 game. In everything that had gone on to this point in the game, the Studio Cuts Crowning Moment of the Game was just about to be played out.

Hit last night with a high elbow but able to play in tonight's game, Braiden Epp became the centre of attention again when he was reaching for the puck against the wall in his own zone and was hit from behind while in an awkward position. Matty Saharchuk leveled Epp leaving the Prince George forward on the ice. The players came together in a scrum and were pushing and shoving and jawing at each other. Christian Weidauer and TJ Dumonceaux came together and looked like they may go when Dumonceaux dropped his gloves and started trying to land a shot.

Ryan Dawson, one of the linesman came in to seperate the two players and as he did he was hit a first time by Dumonceaux. It looked like that was where it was going to end but the Vipers forward continued to try and get loose from the clutches of Dawson and then with another right, Dumonceaux connected but it was the face of Dawson that he hit sending the linesman crashing to the ice where he laid for over thirty seconds. Cam Smith, the Spruce Kings trainer who was already on the ice attending to Epp, went to the official to offer help. The official had been cut and there was blood on the ice as he got up holding a cloth to his face.

Thinking that Vipers would get a five minute major for the Saharchuk boarding call and a two minute instigator penalty to Dumonceaux for dropping the gloves and looking to start a fight, the referee surprised everybody and called just a single minor for the boarding, gave both Weidauer and Dumonceaux ten minute misconducts and a game misconduct to Dumonceaux for tagging the official. The strange interpretation of what happened left the Spruce Kings in disbelieve and provided a source of inspiration for the Vipers.

Prince George didn't get much of anything on the man advantage and as the penalty came to an end, it was the Vipers that went on the offensive and found the equalizer with three minutes still to play in regulation time. Neither team could score in the remaining time leading to overtime where both teams would again trade chances in end to end rushes combining for 17 shots on goal in total in the extra time. The Vernon Vipers finished with 9 shots through overtime for a game total of 41 and the Spruce Kings were credited with 8 shots for a game total of 28.

The single point extended the Spruce Kings points per game streak to eight games with five wins, and three overtime decisions including two 4-4 ties dating back to October 21st versus the Surrey Eagles. Prince George remains one point back of the Langley Rivermen for top spot in the Mainland Division and will now go looking to claim top spot with a win in Salmon Arm. It is the first meeting of the season with the Silverbacks who are coming off of a 3-2 come from behind win over the Trail Smoke Eaters Saturday night.

No comments: