|Danny Kiraly and the Spruce Kings will be|
looking for a big win over the Coquitlam Express tonight
The Prince George Spruce Kings start their final regular season road trip with what is shaping up to be a first round playoff preview against the Coquitlam Express. The Spruce Kings and the Express have been on a collision course to meet in the month of March since the start of the calendar year and tonight's game will do a lot to satisfy a level of confidence for the players, coaches and fans for the winning team.
The Spruce Kings are looking to answer back with a win after suffering back-to-back one goal losses last weekend at home. The Coquitlam Express have a had a little better luck since they last played the Prince George team; although, they are also coming off a loss in their last outing Tuesday night against the Langley Rivermen. The Rivermen have all but locked up top spot in the Mainland Division and only a need a win tonight over the Chilliwack Chiefs to do so.
Prince George has had lots of success through the regular season having won 6 of the eight meetings and only losing one outright ... the last time these two teams met in Coquitlam. Records aside, there is a strong believe that you are only as good as the game you are playing in now. You will see that from the Express who also know of the regular season record and that they are destined to meet the Spruce Kings when the playoffs begin in Prince George on March 4th.
In the Spruce Kings two most recent games, the team found themselves unable to get just that one more goal losing 4-3 to the Langley Rivermen and then 2-1 to the Nanaimo Clippers. Both games were highly charged games and resulted in lots of shots with big saves. On one hand the Spruce Kings coaching staff was happy, especially with the Friday night game that saw the team erase a three goal deficit to draw even. Unfortunately a miscue in the defensive zone resulted in the game winning goal. Those miscues will be something that the coaching staff will want to see reduced if not eliminated all together against a team that is quite capable of blowing open a game.
The Express showed that in their last meeting against the Spruce Kings ... a game they never trailed in and went on to win 6-3. In their past five games, Coquitlam has come up with some big wins including a 7-1 triumph over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, 3-0 shutout of the Cowichan Valley Captials and 5-2 over the Powell River Kings in Powell River.
Four members of the Express occupy spots in the League's Top Twenty goalscorers. Leading the way is Adam Rockwood with 68 points (12G, 56A) in fifth spot followed by Canon Pieper in seventh (31G, 31A), Ryan Rosenthal (31G, 27A) in 11th and Bo Pieper rounds out the offensive group in 19th spot with 23 goals and 31 assists. There's unquestionable a lot of weapons in those four but the team is even deeper than that and as we've seen with wins in Prince George, those players have to be kept in check the entire game and not given the room they need to wind it up.
The Spruce Kings game has been one of opportunity many times and not over committing. The coaching staff is big on defensive accountability and will be looking for it again tonight as the team starts a three game weekend set. It has been a few weeks since the team has been on the road and that might be another factor as players search for their forgotten road routine. At this time of the year, nothing is ever routine and the Spruce Kings need to be aware of that against a team that is looking for the win to fuel their fire for the first round meeting that is all but eminent.
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 6:40pm. Join Ron Gallo for all the play-by-play and analysis of the game tonight from Coquitlam.