The Prince George Spruce Kings will finish off their three game Interior Division road trip this weekend with a stop in Salmon Arm for a matinee game versus the Silverbacks. It is the first meeting of the season between these two teams and could be tough to match what the Spruce Kings have already been through this weekend. After the long bus trip into Trail for Friday's game and last night's double overtime game that took almost four hours to play, a nice simple game would be ideal for Prince George.
This will probably turn into another memorable BCHL game as both teams want the two points that are up for grabs. The Salmon Arm Silverbacks (11-8-1-1) sit in fifth spot in the Interior Division, two points back of the West Kelowna Warriors (12-6-0-2) while the Spruce Kings (12-7-2-2) are one point back of the Langley Rivermen (13-6-1-2) and top spot in the Mainland Division. Interestingly enough, a Prince George win would catapult the Spruce Kings to first overall in the entire British Columbia Hockey League!
This comes with six players out of the lineup - Jake LeBrun, Bryant Christian, Sean Landrey, Cole Todd and Mitch Barker are all still out with injuries and Jesse Jenks is making his way back from the World Junior A Challenge where Team Canada West won bronze. Prince George has called upon reserves to help fill the voids and have been getting exceptional play from their young guns and veteran players stepping up to take on additional roles.
One player that is loving the extra ice time is Chad Staley and he has delivered this weekend with four goals and three assists picking up his second BCHL career hat trick last night in Vernon. Staley opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal and added two more powerplay goals to extend his season total to 12 goals and 11 assists in 23 games. The point production has put the second year player into the League's Top Twenty scoring race.
That leaderboard is currently being led by Salmon Arm Silverbacks sniper Landon Smith (14G, 18A) in his first year in the BCHL. Smith is an import from Denver Colorado that played the previous two seasons in the USHL and is committed for next season to the University of Denver. Sitting in thirteenth spot on that leaderboard is Alex Gillies, another Silverbacks player playing on a line with Smith.
The Silverbacks have a lot of offensive weapons and despite sitting fifth overall in their division, lead the Interior Division with an average of 3.62 goals a game. This could be an offense versus defense game as the Spruce Kings come in with a 2.61 goals against average and an ever improving penalty kill. In last night's game they held the Vipers off the scoreboard on their man advantages and even scored a shorthanded goal. The Silverbacks penalty kill is also pretty good and is currently ranked second in the BCHL.
This is one of those games that the tale of the tape really has nothing to add and only sixty minutes or more will ultimately be required to sort out these two teams in their first meeting of the season. The game is a 3pm start in Salmon Arm and will be broadcast live online with the pay-per-feed through Fasthockey.com and a free audio only online feed from the Spruce Kings Mixlr channel beginning with the pregame show at 2.40pm. Following the game, the team will head home with an expected arrival time of 2am, barring any extenuating circumstances. Members of the Spruce Kings will being participating in Monday's Remembrance Day ceremonies in Prince George.