Friday, January 31, 2014

Game Day vs Coquitlam Express

Cole Todd (16) celebrated his first BCHL goal
last Sunday against the Coquitlam Express


Today marks the start of the New Lunar Year and the Chinese Year of the Wooden Horse. That could be taken as a good omen for the Prince George Spruce Kings where wood is still the primary industry; quietly contributing to the overall economic success of the Province. That same work ethic has been seen in the Spruce Kings this season as they continue their steady push for the playoffs.

Guaranteed a playoff spot, the team has been strengthening it’s core and working on systems to make themselves better to prepare for any team they should meet in the first round of post-season play. As it stands right now, that team would be the Coquitlam Express and for the second weekend in a row the City of PG will get to witness this playoff preview.

Last weekend saw these two teams skate to a 3-3 double overtime tie on the first night with Prince George claiming an outright win the second night on the strength of a 5-1 victory. Both games were well attended and the atmosphere in the Coliseum was that of a playoff game from years gone by.

The players and fans alike are hoping for a similar vibe tonight as the Spruce Kings play host to their Mainland Divisional opponent again. The Coquitlam Express returned home after last weekend for a midweek game against the Surrey Eagles that saw the Express give up ground to the Eagles; ground that Coquitlam will want to make up on both Surrey and of course Prince George.

Getting right down to the action shouldn’t be a hard feat as both teams remember all too well how the last meeting ended with a parade to the penalty box. Some of those penalties resulted in game misconducts and even a game suspension for Zach Hodder. Hodder’s suspension has since been served, but Joey Santucci will be out of the lineup tonight serving the first of a two game suspension he received for an incident on Wednesday night versus the Surrey Eagles.

In Saturday night’s game, Danny Kiraly was caught from behind and pushed into the end boards, crashing heavily leaving the rookie defenceman motionless. Since the incident, Kiraly has passed the concussion protocol and was seen skating with the team on Thursday and Friday but will not dress for tonight’s game.

Will the bad blood boil over tonight? Of course only time will tell, but for the Prince George Spruce Kings, they just want to go out and play their game. Keeping the game simple and effective will be the game plan as they are still down two key defenceman. Cooper Rush remains a few weeks away with his injury and is hopeful to return before the end of the regular season.

The game will be broadcast live online with the pay-per-view feed available through and a free audio only webcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 6:40pm.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Game Day vs Coquitlam Express

Jake LeBrun (8) had a pair of goals last night in a 3-3 tie

Although the game last night ended in a 3-3 tie, it had a little bit of everything and the building was electric! The fans fed off the energy on the ice and the players were fueled by the fans enthusiastic show of support throughout the game.

There was an extended moment of quiet in the building when everybody watched nervously on the ice for signs that Danny Kiraly would be okay. In an end-to-end rush, the rookie defenceman got caught and hit hard into the offensive end boards leaving the 18 year old motionless on the ice.

Kiraly had to be stretchered off the ice and did raise a hand to indicate that he was okay. He was conscious, able to move all limbs and talking in full sentences as he left for the hospital. Hours later he was letting everybody know that other than a few stitches for a cut above the eyebrow and a headache, he was planning on attending today’s game to cheer on the Spruce Kings.

The hit resulted in a five minute major penalty for boarding that the Spruce Kings quickly used to open up a 3-2 lead in the third period after Bryant Christian knocked in the puck six seconds into the powerplay. That goal wouldn’t hold up however as the Coquitlam Express would tie the game in the final minutes on a pinball bounce that got past Alex Murray leading to overtime … that solved nothing despite Prince George having some of the best chances to end it.

The teams traded goals in the opening period with Jake LeBrun scoring early on a powerplay to tie the game 1-1. LeBrun would add another a few minutes later to give the Spruce Kings their only lead of the game but before the end of the opening period, the Express would tie it up. There was no scoring in the second period.

Both teams were flying in this game and had numerous chances with the final shots on goal ending 42-41 in favour of the Spruce Kings. For their efforts between the pipes, Pierce Dushenko of the Express and Alex Murray received first and second stars honours respectfully. Skylar Pacheco picked up the third star while Christian Weidauer was given the FortisBC Energy Player of the Game honours.

Missing Cooper Rush and Karan Toor and then Danny Kiraly, left the blueliners logging a ton of ice time. Through seventy minutes, Mitch Eden, Weidauer and Pacheco logged a lot of ice time and the same can be expected today. The thought is that the Spruce Kings coaching staff will want to work with a game plan that will help to conserve all players energy, because this game has the potential of going the distance again today.

The game will be broadcast live online with the pay-per-view feed available through and a free audio only webcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 2:40pm. Following the game, all fans will be able to skate with the Spruce Kings in a free family skate that goes from the end of the game until 6:15pm. Remember to bring your skates to the game!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Game Day vs the Coquitlam Express

For the first time this season, the Spruce Kings will host
the Coquitlam Express in what is a Playoff Preview

Three teams in the Mainland Division now know that they will be in the playoffs and two of them meet each other this weekend for a double header. The Prince George Spruce Kings secured a playoff berth last weekend while the Coquitlam Express did the same last night on their home ice.

With four teams in the Mainland Division advancing to the post-season, seating in the division is very important in securing home ice advantage. The Spruce Kings currently sit in second place with 54 points while the Express are hot on their heels with 50 points in third place.

This weekend’s double-header could do a lot to determine momentum for the final stretch run to the playoffs. With four points at stake, the Express would like to catch the Spruce Kings; while Prince George would like to use their home ice advantage this weekend to double their points lead on Coquitlam.

The two teams come in to tonight’s game having found different results in their last games. The Spruce Kings lost a tough one after giving up four goals in the first period to the Nanaimo Clippers and couldn’t recover. Meanwhile, the Coquitlam Express never looked back in a 2-1 win over Merritt that saw Adam Rockwood score both goals including an unassisted shorthanded one that held up as the game winner.

Some recent injuries on the backend has led to the Spruce Kings making a couple of callups for tonight. While Prince George still waits to see Cooper Rush in the crown and will have to wait a few more weeks, Karan Toor is listed as day-to-day and will be out of the lineup tonight. Added to the list is Jesse Jenks who is recovering from a high hit last weekend.

With Jenks unable to suit up as a backup tonight, Riley Druskin has become an emergency callup. Druskin is a ’96 born goaltender from Prince George that has participated in previous Prospects Camps with the Spruce Kings. Jordan Low is another Prince George hockey product that has been playing this season with the 100 Mile House Wranglers and will suit up as an AP on the blue line in his first Junior A game.

For the Coquitlam Express, they come in to the game basically healthy and full of confidence with a five game winning streak that has saw them close the gap on Prince George. Perhaps the travel will play a factor in the game as this is their first trip North, but the hunger for second place may be the bigger factor in fueling the adrenaline for the visitors tonight.

The game will be broadcast live online with Ron St. Clair and Tom Bohmer providing the play-by-play and in-game analysis. The pay-per-view feed is available through and a free audio only webcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 6:40pm.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Game Day at Nanaimo Clippers

The Spruce Kings wrap up a three game Island Division
with a stop in Nanaimo versus the Clippers

The Prince George Spruce Kings found the win column last night against the Cowichan Valley Capitals and will be looking to make it two in a row as they wrap up their three game Island Division road trip this afternoon against the Nanaimo Clippers. The win for Prince George did a couple of things which included clinching a playoff spot - just the second team to do so in the BCHL - with fifteen games still remaining in the regular season.

The win also shook the monkey off the Spruce Kings back as they have struggled to find wins after getting off a BC Ferry and having to face an Island Division team in their arena. This wasn't an easy win either and may have come at a small cost with a few players leaving the rink sporting a few bumps and bruises. One player was Matt Painchaud who dropped the mitts and went toe-to-toe with Taylor Allan in an early second period tilt.

The more notable injury to the Spruce Kings actually happened Friday night with Karan Toor sitting out of Saturday's game and not likely to dress on Sunday either. Certainly having secured a post season spot will make it a little easier to deal with for the coaching staff who are quick to acknowledge the importance of Toor for the Spruce Kings both defensively and offensively.

"Not having (Karan) in the lineup is a huge blow for us," said Spruce Kings head coach, Dave Dupas. "He logs so much ice time, he's our number one shut down guy and he chips in offensively too. It's a hole that we can't fill, we can't put one guy in there and say here you go, you take over and do what Karan does cause there's not too many players in the League that can do what Karan can do. We're gonna have to make up for it in other ways."

The Spruce Kings started out exactly the way the coach asked them to - with lots of jump and shots. The Spruce Kings opened up a 7-0 shot lead and had the Cowichan Valley Capitals scrambling inside their own zone through the first half of the first period. When the Capitals did find the net, they couldn't beat Jesse Jenks who was given the start in his hometown. On the Capitals' third shot on goal, the goal light did come one for a second on what looked like a sure goal but Jenks was able to get from pillar to post and take that away.

Prince George was given the game's first powerplay of the game and made quick work with the extra attacker. With a D-to-D pass between Mitch Eden and Skylar Pacheco, Bryant Christian was the next to touch the puck and from the top of faceoff circle he snapped home a wrister that whistle passed Robin Guesse to open the scoring just past the half-way mark of the opening period.

The Capitals were able to tie up the game after breaking up a play in the neutral zone and creating a 2-on-1 with the lone defenceman back being the affiliate player, Stefan Wood from the Kamloops Storm. Wood played the odd man rush perfectly forcing the puck carrier to the outside and giving the player only one option to pass the puck. The play worked for the Capitals with Adam Moody beating Jenks this time to the far side post.

To start the second period, the Capitals went to work with a man advantage and would take over the lead in the game with a power play goal. Shortly after the 2-1 go-ahead goal, Matt Painchaud found himself in a pushing match with Taylor Allan that saw the two trade blows early on before Allan was able to take Painchaud to the ice. Both players were given five minutes for fighting and offsetting minors. Allan's was for cross checking and Painchaud's was for instigating.

On the ensuing faceoff, Bryant Christian won the draw back to Jake LeBrun who ripped another wrister high over the glove of Guesse to once again tie the game. Two minutes later at 5:21, the Capitals thought they put the dagger in the heart of the Spruce Kings when they were able to squeeze a puck under the pads of Jenks after the puck had enough momentum to slip past the short side post after Jenks made the initial save.

Prince George would answer right back with their own lucky bounce that had fans in the stands yelling out their disapproval over a non-call that led to a 3-on-1 odd man rush for the Spruce Kings. In the defensive zone, Adam Moody of the Capitals appeared to be twisted around by Christian Weidauer but the referee's arm stayed by his side as Chad Staley picked up the puck and rushed down the right side wall with Justin Rai and Jeremiah Luedtke on his left side. Looking pass the entire way, Staley centred the puck only to have it bounce off the leg of Matt Berry-Lamontagnia and into his own net tieing the game yet again.

On perhaps the nicest goal of the game, the Spruce Kings would take back their lead late in the second period and not relinquish it. After picking up the puck in far faceoff circle, Luedtke looked to be heading back to the left point but dropped the puck to his skate and purposely kicked up to himself in the high slot. The gifted forward then pulled the puck back in and headed down the slot with the two defenceman left scratching their heads. Luedtke ripped another shot past Guesse for his 12th of the season and the 4-3 lead.

Early in the third period the Spruce Kings would get another powerplay to work with leading to the eventual game winning goal as Staley buried his second of the game and 22nd of the season. The Capitals would get that one back with a powerplay tally of their own but that would be it for the Capitals as the Spruce Kings headed back down the ice and would chase the starting goaltender after they scored their fourth goal on five shots. Bryant Christian earned first star honours after getting his second of the game and 11th of the season.

That same work effort will be at the top of the list for the coaching staff who know that they will have to find other ways of keeping motivation up for the players who have locked up a playoff spot. The Spruce Kings face the Nanaimo Clippers for the first time since the BCHL Showcase. The Clippers are considered to be a very good team with strong goaltending, smart defenceman that can move the puck up the ice quickly and create chances for a forward squad that is considered to be quite deep.

Sitting third in the Island Division, the Clippers have only one player in the League's Top Twenty, but don't let either of those stats fool you. Thirteen players of the twenty skaters have double digit points including four with over thirty points and another trio in the twenties. Jayson Argue ranks just ahead of Alex Murray and just behind Alec Dillon among goaltenders in the BCHL. Argue comes into the game with a .925 save percentage and 2.55 goals against average. On Friday night the Clippers allowed only two goals in a 2-1 loss and before that erased a 3-1 deficit to post a 4-3 regulation time win over the Victoria Grizzlies.

As I wrap up this post, I'm reminded of a comment made by Spruce Kings head coach Dave Dupas when he said that if the Spruce Kings are going to do something this season, they are going to have to find ways to win games in other team's arenas. The same can be used today to help motivate the team who are still in a hunt for top spot in the Mainland Division and will be looking to return home for a stretch of home games that will include a series of five games against the Langley Rivermen.

Today's game has a scheduled 2pm start from the Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo. The game will be broadcast live online with the pay-per-view feed available through and a free audio only webcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 1:40pm. Following the game, the Spruce Kings will begin the long trek home that will start with a two hour Ferry ride back to Vancouver and then the long 10 hour drive home. A week of practice in the Coliseum will lead into a double header next weekend against the Coquitlam Express.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Game Day at Cowichan Valley Capitals

Brogan O'Brien (15) and the Spruce Kings are in Duncan
to take on the Cowichan Valley Capitals tonight

The Prince George Spruce Kings face the Cowichan Valley Capitals under the "Big Stick" in Duncan tonight at 7pm. After coming up just short last night in a 6-5 loss to the Victoria Grizzlies, the Spruce Kings know that they will have to be even better than they were one game ago if they want to pick up their own points in the quest to hold down a top spot in the Mainland Division and also lock up a playoff spot.

It would be safe to say that right now the coaching staff and even the players are more worried about finding points against Island division teams with two more Island based teams to face this weekend. The record is not the greatest and is becoming a bit of a concern for the Spruce Kings who have sixteen games remaining in the regular season. The Spruce Kings have two wins in seven games, including one against the Capitals back on October 26th in Prince George.

"If we're going to go anywhere in (the post-season), we have to win games against these teams." said head coach, Dave Dupas. "It's just a matter of us getting back to playing the way we played early and the way we know that we can. We have to defend much harder, much better and if we do that we're in every game and if we don't do that, we're just another team that can lose to anybody on any given night."

The trend in the Island Division team is to send in a physical forecheck looking to force a turnover. A lot of the times those turnovers come from the secondary support on the aggressive forecheck with another player getting a stick or body part in the lane to break up the break out play. The Spruce Kings saw that first hand and there should be no expectations not to see that again tonight. In fact the expectation is to see an elevated physical style of forecheck from another hard working team that will more closely resemble the Alberni Valley Bulldogs style from a couple of weekends ago.

The Capitals play a close checking game but are careful not to cross the line and draw too many penalties. Shorthanded a total of 187 times this season, Cowichan Valley has a very similar record on the penalty kill as Prince George operating at a 79.14% efficiency while the Spruce Kings are slightly better at 80.84% on 164 penalty kills. Where Prince George will have to be careful is taking undisciplined penalties with the Capitals averaging one goal in every five powerplay chances.

If the Spruce Kings can play their game with a few adjustments, they have shown more offensive potential through the regular season having outscored their opposition by 28 goals while the Capitals are a -33. In this case it does look like defense will be the edge that Prince George will need to use to their advantage and that will start from the goaltender out. After getting a few games rest, Jesse Jenks is set to get the start and looking forward to playing against what could be considered his hometown team.

"I played minor hockey here since I was four years old and I grew up watching the Capitals," explains Jenks who is from Crofton, BC. "I live just ten minutes from the rink and there are going to be lots of family and friends in the building watching us play tonight. It's going to be fun to get to play in front of everyone that hasn't seen me play in awhile. I know my family is proud of me and will be cheering me and us on."

In his rookie year, the eighteen year old has caught the eyes, hearts and imagination of many and for the Spruce Kings coaching staff it was an easy decision to slot Jenks in for this start.

"He has played well all season long," said Spruce Kings communications director, Ron Gallo. "He has played for Team Canada and he has matured as a goaltender in style and demeanor. He has played in some very tough situations against some very tough teams and in some very stressful circumstances. In all of them he has shown that he is a very capable goaltender and thrives on all of that."

A win tonight will secure a playoff spot for the Prince George Spruce Kings who are more worried about picking up a win and parlaying that into a string of points through a tough stretch of the schedule. In the final sixteen games of the season, the Spruce Kings will see Langley five times, Coquitlam four times and they still have four more games against Island Division teams beginning with this one tonight versus the Cowichan Valley Capitals at 7pm.

The game will be broadcast live online with the pay-per-view feed available through and a free audio only webcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 6:40pm. Following the game, the Spruce Kings will return to Nanaimo where they will wrap up their weekend road trip with a matinee affair at 2pm Sunday versus the Nanaimo Clippers.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Game Day at Victoria Grizzlies

One time member of the Spruce Kings, Leo Fitzgerald (9) is
questionable to return to action tonight against his former team

The Prince George Spruce Kings are back on Vancouver Island to start a three game in three day road trip beginning with a stop in the Bear cave tonight. The Coastal Conference best team, the Victoria Grizzlies will play host to the visiting royalty tonight as Prince George goes looking for win number four in a row and number 25 on the season.

A win tonight for Prince George all but assures them of a playoff spot with sixteen games still remaining in the regular season. The team's magic number is technically 2 points but that would put them in a tiebreaker scenario with the Chilliwack Chiefs. If Chilliwack loses, the Spruce Kings would officially become the second team in the BCHL to secure a minimum of four games in the post season.

Not getting ahead of themselves will be very important for a group that has seen some highs and some lows this season while remaining near the top spot of the Mainland Division for almost the entire season. The Spruce Kings come into the game tonight with a three game win streak after posting back-to-back wins on home ice last weekend over the Surrey Eagles. The Victoria Grizzlies will be a little ornery after suffering a mid-week 4-3 loss to the Nanaimo Clippers.

Prior to that the Grizzles were 5 and 0 in their previous five game - all of which were played on home ice. The Grizzlies have an impressive 13-5-1-1 record on home ice and start another four game home stand tonight against the visiting Spruce Kings. On the road, Prince George has fared extremely well posting a record of 12-8-2-1, good for half their wins and half their points. Perhaps if there is a concern it will the Spruce Kings road record against Island Division teams where they are yet to pick up a point.

Although they played a very close game against the Powell River Kings, the Spruce Kings came up empty with a 2-1 regulation time loss. The following night in Port Alberni, the team played a forgettable game that saw them drop a 5-2 decision to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Finding a way to play against the more physical style of the Island based teams will be a priority for the Spruce Kings tonight as they look to start a tough weekend road trip on a positive note against a tough team in the Victoria Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies recently went through an ownership change that filtered down to an immediate change behind the bench. Gone is long time BCHL coaching Bill Bestwick. Perhaps best known for his days with the Nanaimo Clippers and for bringing the Fitzgerald triplets into the League, Bestwick is now a senior advisor with the Clippers. Craig Didmon is now the head coach in Victoria with Scott Hawthorne the assistant coach. From Victoria with long time ties to game of hockey in the Province's Capital, Didmon started this season as his fifth season behind the bench as an assistant and was immediately promoted to bench boss with the vacancy.

The team itself has been performing well since game one and comes into their 43rd game of the season tied with a league best record of 27-10-3-2. The Penticton Vees have a similar record of 27-10-2-3 while the Langley Rivermen have played more games but also have a 59 points with a record of 27-12-1-4. The Grizzlies have a better record, than the other two, in their previous ten outings with 8 wins and 2 losses.

Leading the way offensively are two thirds of the Fitzgerald triplets, Myles and Gerry have combined for 112 points while Leo has been sidelined for much of the season and has only been on the ice for three games, he suited up for a fourth but never made it to the opening faceoff and hasn't played a game since September 13th. There was speculation that Leo would make his return to the game on Wednesday night but didn't. That same speculation exists for tonight's game and we will have to wait and see if the one-time Spruce King will be able to play against his former team.

Victoria has a number of weapons in their arsenal, besides the Fitzgerald triplets there is Jesse Schwartz (14G, 30A), Travis Stephens (13G, 18A), Garrett Forster 12G, 9A), Jay Mackie (7G, 14A) and Mark McLellan (10G, 10A) are all into the 20+ point club among forwards. Then there's the offensively minded defenceman led by Brandon Egli (8G, 17A) and Jacob Kearley (3G, 16A). Rounding out the team is the goaltending duo of Alec Dillon (2.32 GAA, .923 SV%) and Nic Renyard (2.72 GAA, .911 SV%). Dillon ranks 3rd in both stats among the League's best netminders.

On paper, these two teams match up pretty evenly in styles with the offensive edge going to the Victoria Grizzlies, but the Spruce Kings are used to being the underdog and play better when they are in that role. In their first meeting of the season, the Grizzlies were able to claim the points in a tough defensive battle that ended in a 1-0 regulation time loss for the Spruce Kings playing their first game without Jake LeBrun in the lineup.

The Spruce Kings are basically healthy with the lone exception being Cooper Rush who was hurt in his first game playing for Prince George against his former team. The Spruce Kings have also brought along a pair of affiliate players (APs) and are expecting to get both Mitch Barker and Stefan Wood into the lineup at some point this weekend.

Prince George does come into the game tonight riding a bit of a high after those two wins over Surrey last weekend that feature a pair of hattricks against their Divisional opponent. On Friday night, Brent Lashuk picked up his second hattrick of the season and coincidentally, his second against the Surrey Eagles while Just Rai started on Friday with a goal and an assist and then provided the overtime heroics to register his first BCHL career hattrick against a team he grew up watching.

Finding different players to contribute offensively tonight will be another key to picking up valuable points in their race to the top of the Mainland Division. Tonight's game is one of three games that Prince George has on the front running Langley Rivermen who have a seven point cushion. One other game in the BCHL tonight of interest to the road team is being played in Coquitlam where the Express are hosting the Chilliwack Chiefs. As mentioned earlier, points for Prince George coupled with any points lost by Chilliwack will officially put the Spruce Kings into the post season.

Tonight's game from Bear Mountain Arena in Colwood has a 7:15pm start time and will be broadcast live online with the pay-per-view feed available through and a free audio only webcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 6:50pm. Following the game, the Spruce Kings will return to their home base in Nanaimo and will play the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Saturday night and the Clippers Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Game Day vs the Surrey Eagles

The Prince George Spruce Kings look to take the season series away from the Surrey Eagles tonight as the two teams play their final regular season game against each other. The two teams have split seven games evenly down the middle and have seven points each with three regulation time wins and a single point in a 4-4 tie.

Tonight’s game also completes this weekend’s doubler header that saw the Spruce Kings take the first half in a wild 6-3 final. Both teams tallied a controversial goal and created lots of chances to put the other team away, but in the end it was a hat trick from Brent Lashuk that capped off the Prince George victory.

For Lashuk, this was his second hat trick of the season and, coincidentally enough, both came against the Surrey Eagles. Not only were both against the same team, but both were tallied in Prince George on the first game of a double header. In both cases Lashuk scored all three goals in consecutive order for the Spruce Kings.

With the similarities between the two games, it begs the question, “what happened on the second night?” Well the Spruce Kings will be looking to avoid that repeat as they dropped a close 2-1 decision to the Eagles who earned their split.

This is the third double header of the season between the two teams and in the first it was the Surrey Eagles that had the lopsided win on night one while the two teams took home the single point on night two. As it all goes to show, these two teams are far more evenly matched than either side probably wants them to be.

Despite the loss, the Surrey Eagles come in to the game tonight feeling like they deserved a better fate and can be expected to play as well and perhaps better than they did a night ago. Despite missing two key players including the team leading scorer in Jonah Renouf, the newly acquired Eagles filled in nicely with both Anthony Conti and Chase McMurphy picking up goals.

The Spruce Kings will want to continue what worked for them last night and capitalize on their chances but the coaching staff will also want to see a lot more defensive accountability as well. For head coach Dave Dupas and assistant coach Colton Buffie, there were a few too many missed assignments that led to odd man rushes and goal mouth scrambles. In the third period, the Eagles seemed to take over momentum when they were credited for a goal after the puck slid along the goal line and was ruled to have crossed it before Alex Murray could clear it away.

The goal inspired the Eagles and led to another shot that left half the building wondering if it had actually hit the inside cross bar and should have actually been a goal. The Eagles did add a third goal on their fifth powerplay of the game, but then popped their own balloon after taking a penalty with less than three minutes remaining. Prince George was able to end the game on a high note when Bryant Christian found the puck in the neutral zone and unselfishly looked off the lone defender before passing the puck to Brent Lashuk for the empty net finisher and hat trick goal.

The Prince George Spruce Kings are looking to keep pace with the Langley Rivermen in the chase for top spot in the Mainland Division while the Surrey Eagles have their sights set on the Coquitlam Express and third place. Both the Express and the Rivermen are in action tonight in Vernon and Chilliwack respectfully.

Tonight's game is the fifth Prince George Motors Feature Game of the Month on the Drive and will be broadcast live on 99.3 FM Listen Live Link. The game will also be available on as a pay-per-view broadcast. The pregame show begins at 6:45 with puck drop at 7pm from the Prince George Coliseum. Ron St. Clair, Thomas Bohmer and Ron Gallo will bring you all the action from the Castle on 99.3 the Drive.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Game Day vs Surrey Eagles

Spruce Kings will be wearing their dark blue jerseys tonight
when they host the Surrey Eagles

For the first time in 2014, the Spruce Kings return to home ice for a regular season game. Tonight Prince George host the Surrey Eagles in the first half of a weekend double header between these two Mainland Divisional opponents.

The Spruce Kings sit in second place with 48 points (22-13-2-2) and are coming off a 3-0 shutout victory over the Chilliwack Chiefs last Sunday. The year did not start out the way it was hoped after Prince George dropped their first two games after the Christmas Break before responding with the shutout win.

With a record of 17-22-1-0, the Surrey Eagles are looking for this trip North to spark themselves to a win and gain some ground on the Coquitlam Express. Sitting in the last playoff spot in the Mainland Division, Surrey has struggled after the Christmas break dropping back to back games to the Chilliwack Chiefs and another loss to Langley in their last outing.

Recent injuries have left a few holes in the Eagles roster with notable scratches being Jonah Renouf and Colton Mackie. Renouf has been out since last weekend when he was caught by a big hit that left the team’s number one scorer requiring medical attention on the ice and an overnight stay in the hospital.

Renouf is with the team this weekend for their trip to Prince George and is waiting for the doctor’s approval to get back in the lineup. The same can’t be said of Mackie who has been out since December 28th. The injuries open up two spots for a pair of affiliate players in Matthew Houston and Quinn Lenihan.

Even with the APs in the lineup, the Surrey Eagles come into the game tonight one player short of a full bench. Ahead of the trade deadline, the Eagles were involved in two pretty significant player transactions that included their captain. Brett Mulcahy was traded to the Vernon Vipers in exchange for Chase McMurphy and future considerations.

McMurphy is expected to centre the Eagles top line tonight with Danton Heinen and Joesph Drapluk. In another transaction, Surrey picked up Anthony Conti and future considerations in exchange for Nicholas Pierog. Conti will play on the left wing with Nathan Renouf at centre and Braeden Russell on the other side.

As the trade deadline closes in for another year, the Spruce Kings have made only one move of note. In a deal made just ahead of puck drop on Sunday, the Spruce Kings and Chiefs traded D-men sending Caleb Thompson to Chilliwack in exchange for Cooper Rush. In an unfortunate turn of events, Rush was hit low and is now out of the lineup undergoing treatment and may miss the next two to four weeks.

This time of the year can be seen as a stressful time for players, coaches, management and fans alike with the knowledge that teams are looking to get better for the playoff stretch. The Spruce Kings are very much in the hunt for a home start to the playoffs and want to make sure they are positioned for a long post-season run. Before that though there are 19 more games in the regular season including this double header this weekend against the Surrey Eagles.

Puck drop is scheduled is for 7pm at the Prince George Coliseum with the game broadcast live online with a pay-per-view feed available from and a free audio only webcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 6:40pm. Coming up in the first intermission, Ron Gallo will talk to Spruce Kings alumni and former captain Brody Mott about what it is like from a player's perspective to be dealt during the trade deadline. In the second intermission, Gallo will also talk with current captain, Bryant Christian. Ron St. Clair and Tom Bohmer will have the complete call of the game.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Game Day at Chilliwack Chiefs

Jeremiah Luedtke has three points (2G, 1A) so far in 2014
and will be looking to add to that total tonight in Chilliwack

The Prince George Spruce Kings are looking at a third attempt to get their first win of 2014. The Spruce Kings started the new year sitting in second place in the Mainland Division with 46 points. Two outings against Island Division teams didn't change that status but didn't do anything to improve it either.

On the heels of Friday's 2-1 loss to the Powell River Kings, the Spruce Kings could not redeem themselves on Saturday night dropping a 5-2 decision to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. The home team last night played much better than their record indicated and forced the issue the entire game leaving the Spruce Kings reeling after their 13th loss of the season.

The Spruce Kings pre-Christmas record of 21-11-2-2 was largely the result of hard work in the face of adversity while the team went through a patch of injuries to some key personnel. Although the team has been mostly injury free for the month of December and the start of 2014, the wins have dropped off with only one win in their last four games.

That win came against their divisional oppenent, the Chilliwack Chiefs back on December 20th in Chilliwack. In that game the Spruce Kings exploded for five goals in the second period en route to a 7-2 win. Since then the Spruce Kings have managed only three goals, two from Jeremiah Luedtke and the other from Justin Rai set up by Luedtke.

Since December 20th, the Chiefs have played four games picking up three wins including back-to-back wins against the Surrey Eagles to close out 2013. The other win came a night after the loss to Prince George. In their last game, Chilliwack lost 4-3 in overtime to the Langley Rivermen.

Given the recent turn of events for both teams, it is safe to say that this matchup will not have the same feel as some of the previous meetings. The Chiefs have regained their confidence while the Spruce Kings are hoping for something to turn in their favour.

Prince George has shown the ability to respond after a poor showing and the coaching staff will be looking for that tonight. In last night's game, it was felt that the Spruce Kings were being beat to all the loose pucks and kept to mostly low percentage scoring chances.

Remaining defensively sound while getting back to their own offensive attack will be a priority as a number of players look for their first goals of 2014 and the team, as a whole, looks for their first win in 2014 before returning home for a double header against the Surrey Eagles.

Tonight's game has a scheduled 5pm puck drop and will be broadcast live online with the pay-per-view feed available through and a free audio only webcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 4:40pm. Following the game, the team will return home to prepare for their first game in the Coliseum for 2014 on January 10th versus the Surrey Eagles. The game will be sponsored by the four Save On Foods stores in Prince George with some great prizes up for grabs.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Game Day at Alberni Valley Bulldogs

The Spruce Kings are looking for a clear sailing to the win column as they make their way from Powell River to Port Alberni. Last night in Powell River the Spruce Kings suffered their first loss of 2014 and are still looking for their first win of the New Year. Game two of three game weekend goes tonight against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs beginning at 7pm.

The Spruce Kings 2-1 loss was a close game but also indicative of the shots tallied in the game as the Island Division Kings outshot the visitors by a margin of 2-1 (40-20). The first period was a close one with teams trading chances and powerplay opportunities but it wasn't until the last minute that Prince George was able to capitalize on a turnover in their own zone and head up the ice on a 2-on-1 break.

Justin Rai and Jeremiah Luedtke played a quick game of pass up the middle of the ice before Luedtke completed the multiple give-and-go play with his tenth of the season with less than 30 seconds remaining in the opening period. The one goal lead would hold up for over 20 minutes despite Powell River opening up a shooting gallery on Jesse Jenks. The rookie goaltender was stellar in net and came up with one of his biggest saves off a penalty shot chance for Kurt Keats. Before the middle frame ended, Powell River was able to capitalize on a chance out of the corner and tied the game with less than 15 seconds remaining in the middle frame.

Powell River came out strong to start the third period and would again capitalize on a loose puck when the puck was finally poked past Jenks' skate and the goal post. The goal would hold up as the eventual game winner as the home team played a tough defensive style game working at keeping the Spruce Kings shooters to the outside and separating them from the puck.

The Bulldogs are also coming off a loss last night dropping a 4-1 decision to the League's top team, the Victoria Grizzlies. They will be hungry for their first win of 2014 and 11th of the season sitting in the basement of the Island Division with 10 wins, 22 losses, 2 ties and 4 overtime losses. The Bulldogs have allowed the fifth most goals against in the League and are 14th for goals scored. The Spruce Kings would be wise not to look at those numbers as they look to improve their goals for themselves.

Creating and capitalizing on scoring chances will be the focus for the coaching staff as they look for a full sixty minute effort from the players. Following the game Friday night, Spruce Kings Assistant Coach, Colton Buffie was pleased with the effort shown in the first game back from the Christmas break through the first 20 minutes. There was some concern with the amount of shots that got through in the second and third periods but recognized that a lot of those came from the outside and were considered to be low percentage chances.

The Spruce Kings will want to build on those positives and create quality chances of their own in the first meeting of the season against the Bulldogs. The 'dogs are known to be a team that will work hard, putting in a full effort looking for chances to capitalize on. The Bulldogs have five forwards with over twenty points each (Hunter Stewart 31, Justin Georgeson 30, Tryg Strand 29, Mitch Makin 21 and Harlan Orr 20) with the defenceman Darian Henry sitting one point back at 19.

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs earlier this week acquired the playing rights of Prince George hockey product Nathan Warren as their second goaltender. It's not certain if Warren is ready to play his first game for his new team or not as that will be a game time decision. The Spruce Kings will go with Jesse Jenks tonight, Alex Murray will be scratched with a back muscle strain and Tate Sproxton will be in the backup role.

The game is a 7pm start and will be broadcast live online with the pay-per-view feed available through and a free audio only webcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 6:40pm.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Game Day at Powell River Kings

The Prince George Spruce Kings start the New Year on the road in a matchup of BCHL royality. The Spruce Kings are in Powell River tonight to take on the Island Division Kings. This is the first game following the Christmas break for both teams making for an interesting start to 2014.

Although a season is defined by all the games played, there seems to be a point when teams and players step it up a notch and make that proverbial push for the playoffs. That point is now. Sometimes the first few games after the break are the toughest if for no other reason than the players have had some time off and might be a little "rusty" getting back.

The Spruce Kings headed into the break after posting a big 7-2 win over the Chilliwack Chiefs. That win came a day after suffering a loss to the Surrey Eagles. In all the Spruce Kings were performing very well in the first half of the season having played above .500 on the road as well as home. Their record saw them sitting at or near the top in the Mainland Division.

To start 2014, Prince George has a record of 21 wins, 11 losses, 2 ties and 2 losses through 36 games. Those 46 points are good for second place in the Mainland Division, three points back of the Langley Rivermen who have played three more games then the Spruce Kings. The Powell River Kings also sit second in their division, but with 52 points in 36 games played.

The Powell River Kings have a very impressive 14-4-1-0 record on home ice which may be a testament to just how much of a toll the trip in takes on the visiting team. The Spruce Kings started their journey on January 1st from Prince George stopping overnight in Richmond to gather up the players returning from their homes. On January 2nd the team made the 200 kms journey that took almost 8 hours and two separate ferries to complete.

A full practice on Thursday before leaving Richmond and a full day on the Sunshine Coast to recover should leave the Spruce Kings as close to game ready as anyone could hope for. But you know the Powell River Kings will be ready too, especially after ending their pre-Christmas schedule with a disappointing 5-0 shutout loss to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

Powell River is a very potent machine and they showed it in their two previous games with big wins over Coquitlam (8-3) and Vernon (7-2). Despite scoring the second most goals per game on average in the League (3.81), what makes the Kings dangerous is that they spread the goal scoring around.

Their leading goal scorer, Jarid lukosevicius is ranked 20th among the BCHL goal scorers with 16 goals and 22 assists. Ryan Scarfo also has 38 points with 15 goals and 23 assists. Drew Dorantes leads the team with 20 goals and has 16 assists. The next five players on that team list are fowards sharing 126 points between them and then comes the defenceman. Brian Rideout has 20 points (4G, 16A) and then four more blueliners with double digit point production so far.

Like Prince George, Powell River has a good tandem in net. Jeff Smith leads the entire League with a 2.01 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. For the Spruce Kings, Jesse Jenks will get the start tonight after Alex Murray reaggrevated a minor injury. Tate Sproxton was called up to travel with the team this weekend as the backup.

There should be a lot of excitement in the Powell River Recreational Complex tonight as the game marks the first game on home ice in four weeks for the Kings and is also their night to draw for a winner in their Annual Dream Lottery.

Tonight's game is scheduled to start at 7:30pm with the opening faceoff. The game will be broadcast live online with the pay-per-view feed available through and a free audio only webcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 7:10pm.