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 Fasthockey.com and a free audio only webcast on the Spruce Kings Mixlr Channel beginning with a pregame show at 7:10pm.