Saturday, March 8, 2014

Game Four at Coquitlam Express

Tempers boiled over in Game Three

The Prince George Spruce Kings will be looking to tie this series up at two wins apiece after a disappointing 2-0 loss in Game Three last night. As we have become accustomed to seeing, these two teams played each other extremely tight and frustrated each other for most of the game.

The first period was pretty even on the shot clock and even in chances but remained scoreless. The Spruce Kings ran into some penalty troubles especially late in the opening frame when they found themselves down two men in the final minute. Prince George would have to start the second period playing two men short for 1:31. Alex Murray made some of his best saves to keep the game scoreless putting momentum on the side of the Spruce Kings, unfortunately the Express would steal that momentum and open the scoring three minutes into the period.

With Prince George pressing, a simple turn to the left instead of the right became the difference as Cody Boyd picked up a loose puck in his own end and skated it up the ice basically unchecked. As Boyd went through the middle he faded to the right side and his offwing. From the low faceoff circle Boyd let go a weak backhand that handcuffed Murray and fluttered through the goaltender for the game's first goal and eventual game winner.

That goal also serious swung momentum back in favour of the Coquitlam Express who carried much of the play for the next seven minutes. Fortunately for Prince George they were in the game right til the end but just couldn't capitalize on any of their chances and when they did get quality shots, Gordie Defiel was seeing most of all the shots into his glove. The game remained a one goal game until late in the third period when Bo Pieper found the back of the net on another broken play that started from the top of the Express zone.

The final two and half minutes saw a number of incidents that led to a bit of a blow up with 15 seconds remaining in the game. In a stoppage in play in front of the Express net, Chad Staley was mugged leading to a lot of pushing and shoving and required over ten minutes for the officials to sort out. When the dust settled from that incident the Spruce Kings found themselves short handed with Matt Painchaud in the penalty box and a total of five misconducts handed out to Staley, Braiden Epp and Sean Landrey from the Spruce Kings as well as Adam Rockwood and Zac Hodder of the Coquitlam Express.

The ensuing faceoff went down to the other end of the ice to the Spruce Kings zone and as the puck dropped so did Bo Pieper who was writhing in pain. That drew a confused crowd with the Spruce Kings affiliate player Roshen Jaswal the centre of attention. Again there was a melee of players pushing and shoving against the glass trying to sort out exactly what happened. Jaswal was assessed a five minute major and game misconduct for an apparent slash while Brendan Lamont was given two minutes for instigating, five minutes for fighting and a game misconduct. On top of those two game misconducts another six misconducts were assessed to three players from each side; Marco Ballarin, Stephen Penner and Cole Todd from the Spruce Kings, John Saunders, Mark Whitely and Cody Boyd from the Express.

There is not expected to be any loss of manpower from either team as a result of the infractions heading into game four, but certainly that whole incident will be an undercurrent in the game. The Spruce Kings will need to play their game and find ways to capitalize on their chances, especially on the powerplay. If there is one area of the game that could spell the demise of one team and the success of the other, it is the powerplay.

Heading into game four both teams are still to find an odd man goal, but certainly not for a lack of chances. Both teams are 0/13 with the man advantage and both have had extended two man advantages to work with at times. Right now the difference in the series for Prince George seems to be depth up front especially with two key injuries keeping Brent Lashuk and Bryant Christian out of the lineup. Lashuk is not expected to be cleared to play until late April while Christian may be ready to go as early as Monday in Prince George for game five.

Also out of the lineup are two important defenceman with Cooper Rush waiting for doctor's clearance and Karan Toor hopeful to be in the lineup on Monday as well. In the absence of Rush and Toor, the Spruce Kings called up Roshen Jaswal who played progressively more minutes as the game went on and will be getting a lot more to start game four tonight. Jaswal has shown himself to be a smart puck moving defenceman that isn't afraid to use his size or show his mean side a little as well.

Tonight's game has a scheduled 7pm puck drop from the Poirier Sports and Leisure Complex in Coquitlam 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. Following the game, the Spruce Kings will head back to Prince George to prepare for game five on Monday night in the Coliseum. Tickets for game five can be purchased at the Spruce Kings office until 5pm Saturday and from noon until 4pm on Sunday as well as all day Monday.

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