|Mitch Eden (27) will be one of three defenceman out|
of the lineup tonight versus the Alberni Valley Bulldogs
The Prince George Spruce Kings are halfway through their longest home stand of the season and tonight they have to put a pretty good four game record to the test against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Both teams have a lot at stake in this contest where playoff implications abound with every game.
For Prince George, they have their sights set once again on top spot in the Mainland Division currently six points back of the Langley Rivermen with a game in hand. Meanwhile Alberni Valley is coming off a 5-2 mid-week victory over the Nanaimo Clippers that saw the Bulldogs jump into that final playoff spot in the Island Division.
Don’t let their record fool you, because their bark is actually less than their bite as the Spruce Kings found all too quickly back on January 4th in Port Alberni. In that game, the Bulldogs played a very physical game and used a tenacious fore check to win all the battles. As for their positioning in the Island Division, their record is not an indication of their game as of late.
The Bulldogs had a very rough start to the season and were a beaten down bunch, losers of twelve of their first fifteen games and only four points to show through the first two months of the season. Since then the Bulldogs record is a much improved .500 with 15 wins, 15 losses and 5 overtime losses and improving.
Led by the likes of Justin Georgeson (16G, 28A), Hunter Stewart (10G, 33A) and Tryg Strand (20G, 17A), Alberni Valley has a few dogs in their kennel that can bite. Don’t overlook a few others such as Mitch Owsley (5G, 7A) who has been averaging just over a point a game since being acquired at the trade deadline from the Whitecourt Wolverines of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
The Spruce Kings are feeling a lot like top dog these days with a three game winning streak that earned them a mention among the Nation’s best junior teams in the CJHL’s Weekly Top Twenty Rankings. Playing in the Castle has seen the team become the subject of many conversations around the town and for the players; they are still in awe of the show of support both at the games and away from the arena.
The team will have to temper all of that in the face of some key injuries; however, Cooper Rush is still at home recovering from a knee injury and remains hopeful to join the Spruce Kings for games before the end of the regular season. Danny Kiraly, who was checked hard into the end boards, has had recurring symptoms from the concussion he suffered and now Mitch Eden becomes the third blueliner to watch from the sidelines after suffering a lower body injury during practice this week. Braiden Epp is also out tonight with an upper body injury considered to be day-to-day.
Jordan Low (defense) and Mitch Barker (forward) will both draw in to the lineup this weekend. Low will be in his fifth game with the Spruce Kings after being called up for a third consecutive weekend from his 100 Mile House Wranglers. With so many bodies missing from the blueline, local hockey product Sean Landrey will be patrolling the blueline alongside Karan Toor, Christian Weidauer, Skylar Pacheco, Stephen Penner and Jordan Low.
With both Epp and Landrey missing from the forward lines, Barker will get another game under his belt playing on a line with Brogan O'Brien and Cole Todd. The top two lines will remain unchanged and certainly the offensive output of those players will also remain unchanged. Justin Rai earned an honourable mention for a seven point weekend in two games versus the Coquitlam Express. Chad Staley and Jeremiah Luedtke also had impressive point production with an average of three points per game.
Tonight's game gets underway at 7pm and 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.