|Mitch Barker (14) helped to take down the Rivermen|
last night scoring his first BCHL goal
With a 3-1 win last night, the Prince George Spruce Kings secured home ice advantage in the first round of the BCHL Playoffs. It was a big a win for the second place team in the Mainland Division but all that changed is the knowing that Games 1 & 2 will be on home ice March 4th and 5th. That and also that the Spruce Kings closed the gap to just six points for top spot in the Mainland Division.
The game plan for the Langley Rivermen was to come out quick and quiet the fans in the Coliseum, but Alex Murray made that first save and from there the game took an immediate turn in favour of Prince George. On the ensuing rush, the Spruce Kings thought they had opened the scoring when Brent Lashuk was pushed into the goaltender leaving a wide open cage for Bryant Christian to fire the puck into.
The goal was waved off but that didn’t deter the home team who were obviously fired up for this meeting. On the very next shift, Braiden Epp was able to knock in a puck after it bounced off the end boards and eluded Brock Crossthwaite. At the 6:30 mark of the opening period, Brent Lashuk registered his twentieth goal of the season on the Spruce Kings fifth shot on net.
That was the end of Crossthwaite’s night but before Lyndon Stanwood could get settled between the pipes, Mitch Barker came busting down the left side wing and ripped his first of the season five-hole to give Prince George a 3-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game. After that things would settle down and the two teams would trade chances with the Langley Rivermen scoring a controversial goal mid-way through the second period.
The ensuing discussion took over two minutes and required a physics major to theorize that it must have been a good goal. In the second half of the game, the Langley Rivermen were relentless looking to pull within one. Alex Murray made some unbelievable saves and, with a little help from the iron, kept the Rivermen at bay the rest of the way.
Fans in the Castle have seen their team over the years pull out all the stops and defeat the top teams. Last night’s win reminded many of the time the Spruce Kings put an end to a record setting win streak by the Penticton Vees. The 3-1 win last night ranks right up there as Prince George ended Langley’s twelve game unbeaten streak, but the Rivermen are sure to bring their best game back for tonight’s rematch. The Spruce Kings will have to be as good and perhaps even better if they want to close the gap on first place even more.
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 St. Clair, Thomas Bohmer and Ron Gallo for all the play-by-play and analysis of the game.