After a quick road trip to Langley Thursday, the Spruce Kings return home for the first of three in a row at the Castle. Tonight it will be the Interior Division Salmon Arm Silverbacks in their one and only regular season road trip to Prince George.
In Langley, Braiden Epp provided the spark scoring his first of the season early in the game after driving hard to the net and then bouncing the puck in off the back of the goaltender’s leg. Later in the game, Epp also helped set up Matt Painchaud for his first BCHL career goal.
Epp’s first star honours in that game were the result of continued hard work over the past month and a half by the Prince George hockey product. Coach Dave Dupas has been extremely happy with the work ethic shown and has rewarded that with more ice time and patience.
It’s never easy heading down the road for a single game and then having to return afterwards. The day turned into a full 24 hour road trip with the team arriving back at the Coliseum almost at the same moment they left the day before. Certainly the Salmon Arm Silverbacks aren’t about to show any sympathy because their road trip to Prince George was just as strenuous after playing in Langley last night.
The Silverbacks lost 3-2 to the Rivermen in overtime picking up a valuable single point in a tight Interior Division race. There are only four points separating the top five teams in that division – Merritt Centennials (34), Vernon Vipers (34), Penticton Vees (33), Salmon Arm Silverbacks (31) and West Kelowna Warriors (30).
The Mainland Division is turning into a two horse race for top spot. The Prince George Spruce Kings (15-8-2-2) come into tonight’s game with a single point lead over the Langley Rivermen (15-9-1-2) and both teams seeing action. The Coquitlam Express (24) defeated the Vees last night to put a little distance between them and the Surrey Eagles (21) while the Chilliwack Chiefs (17) continue to challenge for a playoff spot.
Tonight’s game will showcase one of the most offensive lines in the BCHL. Landon Smith (20G, 21A) leads the entire league with 41 points while team mates Evan Anderson (13G, 20A) and Alex Gillies (18G, 13A) both find spots in the top ten.
Chad Staley (13G, 16A) is the lone Spruce King in the top fifteen among league leading scorers. However, both goalies make the grade with top five showing in goals against average and save percentage. Jesse Jenks leads the way with a 2.37 GAA and .922 SV%, Alex Murray is expected to start tonight with a 2.46 GAA and .909 SV%.
Tonight's game will be broadcast online with the pay-per-view feed available from Fasthockey.com and a free audio only online broadcast through the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 6:40pm.