Fun Fact: In their last five home openers, the Prince George Spruce Kings have always taken at least a point away going 3-0-0-2
Player to watch:
Adam Brubacher – D: One of the off season additions, Brubacher spent
the last three seasons with his hometown Elmira Sugar Kings. The 6’3’
defenceman picked up two assists against the Grande Prairie Storm, and that
should come as no surprise seeing as how he had 45 points in 48 games last
year. Born in ’95, Brubacher will be expected to be a leader both on and off
Braiden Epp – FW: A Prince George native, Epp missed the first three
pre-season games with an ankle injury. In his first game back in the lineup, he
scored a power play goal, and had numerous chances in the following game.
Having scored the most goals last year of any Spruce King player, Epp will
again be counted on to find mesh this season.
Kyle Stephan - FW: Has the most points of any Wild player with 42
points in 53 games last season split between Wenatchee and the Rio Grande
Valley Killer Bees. From Barrie, Ontario Stephan has picked up right where he
left off, scoring against the Coquitlam Express, and then picking up a goal and
two assists in the team’s latest game against Surrey.
Chase Perry - G: After playing for the Wild two years ago, Perry
spent last year in the NCAA with Colorado College. Now the 2014 Detroit Red
Wings draft pick is back in Wenatchee, and was perfect in both exhibition games
against Coquitlam and Chilliwack stopping all 55 shots in the two games.
BCHL Expansion: This will mark the first game in the BCHL for the
Wenatchee Wild. They will be the first team from the U.S.A since the Bellingham
Ice Hawks played in the league from 1990 to 1995. Although this is their first
year in the BCHL, that doesn’t mean it’s their first season. They have operated
in the North American Hockey League since 2008, and have never had a losing
record. The team also has a great fan base, with an average attendance of
nearly 3,000 people in last year’s 30 home games. Being an American club, they
will be allowed to have up to four players on their roster from Canada. One of the
players will be right at home this weekend in Prince George, as Daniel Nachbaur
spent the end of last season with the team, and before that he spent the last
season and a half with the Merritt Centennials.
Prince George Spruce Kings
The Spruce Kings went
1-3-0-1 in their pre-season games this year. It started out with a pair of
games against the Merritt Centennials, where Prince George dropped the first
game 7-4 in what was a young roster for both teams. The team would dress an
older lineup the next night, and take a 4-1 decision over the Centennials who
stuck with a younger team. The Spruce Kings then travelled across the border to
Alberta where they took on the Grande Prairie Storm, and dropped a heart breaking
4-3 overtime loss. The Spruce Kings led 2-1 in the third, but then allowed two
goals for the Storm to take their first lead. Kyle Johnson would erase that
almost immediately though putting one home to tie the game and send it to the
extra frame. Then less than a minute in, Josh Zablocki would play hero for the
home team burying one past McCloskey for the win. To close things out, Prince
George dropped a pair of games 5-3 and 3-0 against a very good Vernon Viper
side, but coach Chad van Diemen said their final game where they lost 3-0 was
the best the team had played in the exhibition games, so that was a bright spot
ahead of the season. Special teams were very different for the team, as they
had good success on the penalty kill, but struggled to get much going while up
a man, so that is one area the team has focussed on in practice.
The Wenatchee Wild had
one blemish in their pre-season. That wasn’t a loss, but one single goal. In
three games, the Wild outscored their opponents 14-1. Chase Perry the Detroit
Red Wings prospect was perfect in his two games, stopping a combined 55 saves
in his two games against Coquitlam and Chilliwack to collect the shutouts.
Those games were 6-0 over Coquitlam, and 4-0 over Chilliwack, the reigning
mainland champions. The final game was against Surrey, where Garrett Nieto allowed
one goal on twelve shots to lead his team to a 4-1 win over Surrey. After a
very successful pre-season, it doesn’t look like the Wild are having nerves in their
first year in the BCHL.
Injuries: One of the new additions for the Spruce Kings, Frank
Sullivan will be out of the game, after suffering an upper body injury in the
team’s home game against Merritt last Friday.