Smoke Eaters Leading Scorer: Kurt Black (3 goals, 3 assists, 7 points)
Player to watch:
The game against the Trail Smoke Eaters will mark
the first game Rylan Bechtel plays in a Spruce Kings jersey. He was
acquired in the off season from the Cowichan Valley Capitals, but didn’t join
the team immediately. He travelled up this week though, and the team is very
happy to have him. This will be his fourth BCHL season, but what really pops,
is his offensive game despite being a defenseman. For a team that has two goals
in four games, the Spruce Kings should be salivating at the 42 points he put up
in 56 games last year. This weekend is a big one for all players in the BCHL, as
the showcase marks a chance to show for the nearly 200 talent evaluators that
take in the games. Bechtel hasn’t played a competitive game yet this season, so
the match up against Trail should be interesting to see how he starts off.
He spent half of last
season with the Spruce Kings, but Cooper Leitch was then traded to the
Trail Smoke Eaters for the second half. This will be the first game that Leitch
plays against his old team, so it should be interesting to see how he comes out
against them. Between playing the team that traded him, and competing in front
of talent scouts at the showcase, Leitch will have plenty of motivation for
this match up.
Prince George comes limping into this showcase. In four games
they have been outscored 22-2, and are still searching for their first win of
the season. They lost a pair down in the Mainland last weekend, against Langley
and Surrey, but they at least managed a goal against the Eagles which was their
first since the season opener. Rylan Bechtel has slotted into the lineup, and
was practicing on the power play and penalty kill units, so he’s being thrown
right into game action. It seems like a good plan, as this is the quickest way
to get him into game action.
Trail has flip flopped between wins and losses this
season, and if that trend continues, than they are in line for a win. In a very
difficult interior division, they are sitting at .500 with two wins and two
losses. The Smoke Eaters leading scorer is also tied for seventh in league
scoring, as Kurt Black has really stepped up for this team with three goals and
four assists thus far.
The veterans have been getting
better in the games recently. Against Surrey, Jake LeBrun scored in his first
game back from a two game suspension, and Alex Stoley picked up an assist. The
coaching staff said that they are impressed with how the veterans are
progressing, and the players will need to continue that trend if they want to
pick up their first win this weekend. Bechtel is the player to watch for the
game against trail, but look for Stoglin and Guerra to have good weekends. The
duo have been steady so far, and could be ready to break out with their first
goals of the season.
Special Teams Turn Around
Coming in with a power play
and penalty kill that are at, or near the bottom of the league, Prince George
needs to turn things around this weekend. Trail is near the bottom of both special
teams ratings as well, so the Spruce Kings have a chance to boost their rankings.
The power play is key for the team, as they have only scored once while up a
man. If teams aren’t as worried about getting punished while on the penalty
kill they may play more aggressively, but if Prince George can pick things up,
then they may be getting more space while at even strength which will lead to
more opportunities. Only the Surrey Eagles have been penalized more than the
Spruce Kings, so they either need to become a lot more disciplined, or pick it
up on the penalty kill.
Going into the game
against the Surrey Eagles, the Spruce Kings had 51 shots combined in the past
three games. The team wasn’t happy with that, especially after their 10 goal
shot performance against Langley. Prince George would fire 42 shots against
Surrey, and although only one made it through, they were at least generating opportunities.
Look for that trend to continue, as going into this season the team knew they wouldn’t
be scoring with the fire power they did last year. That means putting pucks on
nets, and hoping to pick up some rebound with hard work in front. Trail has
allowed 143 shots in their four games, which comes out to 36 shots per game.
That bodes well for the Spruce Kings, as they can’t afford to be limited on their
shooting opportunities again.
Broadcast Info: For all games, you can listen to the action on Mixlror watch live at BCHL