Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sean Landrey and Trevor Esau Post Camp Interviews

Sean Landrey (left) and Trevor Esau in a puck pursuit
battle at the Spruce Kings Intra-Squad Game
Sean Landrey is a 1993 born forward from Prince George who stands 6' 4" and 210 lbs. Landrey played last season with the Prince George Midget Tier 1 team and also suited up for the Spruce Kings as an affiliate player in seven games picking up a goal and an assist.

Landrey, who has committed to the Spruce Kings for this season, opened up the scoring at today's annual Blue vs White Intra Squad game. He also used his big frame to be notice throughout. I caught up with Prince George's own Sean Landrey after the game to talk about his new team going forward. Sean started by telling me what it was like to finally get onto the ice for some game action ...

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Trevor Esau is one of five regular returning players to the Spruce Kings line up. Esau played 51 games last year notching 9 assists. Trevor stands 6'4" weighing in at 210 pounds, but believe it or not, he is not the biggest defenceman this year on the roster. Esau is a part of a roster that see's most of the Spruce Kings back end stand taller than 6'2".

It's a definite change from last season and that is something Esau touched on in our interview after the Intra Squad game. I started by asking him how he prepared and what he worked on during the offseason ...

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Intra Squad Recap

And it officially begins!! Today was the annual Blue vs White Intra-Squad game at the Coliseum and the final chance for some of these guys to show the coaching staff what they've got. The game itself was a fast paced one with little interruption through the first period as the players got used to being back on the ice. (Click here to download the game roster).

Kirk Thompson (1) makes one of his toughest saves
of the games, kicking out a screened point shot
The first two periods of play left no tallies on the board as Marcus Beesley made 12 saves in period one for Team White and Robert Freisen made 10 in period two. Both Kirk Thompson and Jacob Mattes made 7 saves a piece in the first two periods for Team Blue. Fans in attendance had to wait until 6:21 of the third period for the first goal to hit the score sheet.

Local Prince George product Sean Landrey notched the first marker, firing a wrister from the top of the right circle. Spruce Kings returnee Connor Tiechko had an assist on the goal as did defenceman Skylar Pacheco. It only took five more minutes for Team White to add to their lead as Eric Chore put one past Cameron Large. Chore's goal was assisted on the play by his brother Patrick Chore and once again Connor Tiechko. That is where the scoring ended, but not before Team Blue had a couple of nice chances, including a shorthanded breakaway opportunity for Myles Fitzgerald. Cameron Large ended the third period making 11 saves and Jacob Mattes was perfect with 9.

A few players did not suit up in the Blue VS White game as a precaution due to injury. Jeff Earnest, Leo Fitzgerald, Ben Woodley and Paul Dejersey all watched from the stands today.

There were a lot of good things to take away from this Intra Squad game as the Spruce Kings move forward into the Exhibition Season. The two Fitzgerald triplets who played (Myles and Gerry) showed some amazing offensive potential, and all though they didn't score, they were all over the ice. The defence is absolutely massive, and will be the leading force for the Spruce Kings this year. All the defenceman who did play in the scrimmage today showed the strength required to be an elite player. After last season, General Manager Mike Hawes needed to address this position, and it looks like he did just that. The goaltending today was also a big bright spot, as all six goalies showed promise and many made spectacular saves. So although only 2 goals were scored, this was due more to great defensive play rather than a lack of offence. But perhaps the biggest note to take away from today's game, this team really looks like they are having fun on the ice, which is never a bad thing.

Now the coaching staff will decide who will go forward and play for the team during Exhibition. It all starts on September 2nd as the Spruce Kings and the Merritt Centennials will travel to 100 Mile House to square off. As always keep it locked to the blog, twitter and the facebook page for all the roster updates, exhibition action and news leading into the start of the season on September 23rd

Matt Anthony

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Interview With Head Coach Dave Dupas

As day of 1 of the main camp came to a close, I took some time to catch up with the Spruce Kings Head Coach Dave Dupas. This really is a brand new Spruce Kings team and I wanted to get the coach's take on his new players, his returning players and what he expects from this group of guys. I started by asking Dave how it felt to finally see his team hit the ice ...

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Main Camp Day 1

Spruce Kings 6' 6" d-man Ben Woodley (green jersey)
prepares to take a draw against 5' 7" Gerry Fitzgerald
The first day of main camp has come and gone, and my first thought is, it feels great to have hockey back. Over 50 players took to the ice tonight starting with a few coach's drills before they were let loose during scrimmages. We saw three sets of scrimmages with the players being put into three groups. Each group got to play two games where we saw great hustle form both the new guys and the returning vets. We even got to see a bit of a scrap as tensions ended up boiling over. I'm not exactly sure what the coach thought of two guys fighting during a scrimmage, but my thought is, as long as nobody breaks a bone, do whatever you see necessary to get a spot on the roster.

As someone who is new to the organization, here are a few observations I had from day 1

-All the players who were picked up in the off season made an impact and were seen on day 1
-The defence is HUGE
-Jujhar Khaira seems like he will pick up where he left off last season
-There is no shortage of young talent out there to scoop up at any time
-After just one day, this team seems to be having fun and ready for a breakout season
-On a personal note, it is going to be tough announcing for a team that has a set of twins AND triplets

With day 1 in the books we now get ready for days 2 and 3 on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday the teams will go through fitness testing in the morning and then hit the ice for some more scrimmages, this time with the games being two hours a piece instead of one. Then Sunday you can head down to the Coliseum to see the Blue and White Intra-Squad game which will end this weekend's main training camp. Be sure to keep it locked to the blog, twitter and Facebook for all your Spruce Kings updates and analysis. Hope to see you at the rink soon!

Matt Anthony

Mike Hawes on the Eve of his Rookie General Manager Season

Spruce Kings General Manager,
Mike Hawes
Day two of the pre-camp skates and a few more bodies on the ice as more players have been arriving in Prince George for the start of the Spruce Kings main camp this weekend. Surveying the landscape at the Coliseum, I can see a few interested onlookers, a few anxious parents and family members and sitting above the Spruce Kings tunnel to the ice is where the decision makers have set up camp.

Along with the head coach - Dave Dupas, assistant coaches - Kurt Walsten and Tom Bohmer, the Vancouver Island regional scouts - Randy and Colten Buffie, the Spruce Kings president - Darcy Buryn and occasionally the trainer - Bill Baldridge, sits the Spruce Kings General Manager, Mike Hawes. For Hawzy, this is the beginning of the realization of months of hard work to shape a team for the Spruce Kings 40th Anniversary season that will bring back the glory days those 40 years have held in Prince George.

Mike has been around the game of hockey almost all his life and has seen his fair share of successful teams. His experience has seen him play through the hockey system in Prince George, gone on to play Junior A and Major Junior alongside a number of elite names in the game. He has spent almost a decade now in the hockey operations side of the game, learning the finer details of putting together a roster. All that experience and a dash of courage has led him to create his own recipe for a roster.

And now, sitting in the Coliseum bleachers calm and composed, he watches as the players he has hand picked, with input from other members of the hockey operations staff, skate in front of him. While the Zamboni made its way around the ice and we find ourselves sitting on the eve of the team's 40th Anniversary season with the start of training camp, I had a chance to ask Mike a few questions about the team, the players and the process it took to get here starting with the two pre-camp skates.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three Year Vet - Jeff Earnest

The season opener may still be a month away for the Prince George Spruce Kings, but the work has just begun. As of Wednesday a large number of returning players, recent acquisitions and prospects took to the ice for a pre-camp skate. This was still a high tempo session with assistant coach, Jason Garneau, putting the boys through their paces with a few complex drills that used the entire ice surface.

The boys seemed to eat it up and wanted more which is a good indication that the players have been working hard in the off-season to prepare for the Spruce Kings 40th Anniversary season. Although many of the players stood out and showed that they were ready to go, it was Jeff Earnest that caught my early attention and held it to the end scoring a pair of hard one-timers from the side of the net in the game scrimmage.

Jeff Earnest picks up the puck with speed through
the middle during a skate Wednesday night
Jeff Earnest has his school papers in his back pocket for the University of Alaska Fairbanks to study and play with the Nanooks beginning next season. For Jeff, this is his twenty year old season, his third in a Spruce Kings jersey and really his fifth with the team. Jeff is one of those players that was scouted and recruited early on and has skated in a few Spring and Main Camps with the team.

From Anchorage Alaska, Jeff's hockey career includes playing for the the San Jose Jr. Sharks for two seasons before joining the Spruce Kings as an 18 year old rookie. In his rookie and sophomore years the fiesty, hard hitting yet offensively gifted right handed forward tallied 18 goals, setup 30 more and served 101 minutes in penalties in 108 games.

The interesting thing about Jeff was that he proved himself as a very versatile player that could play both an offensive role and a defensive role filling in on the back end when the Spruce Kings had some manpower issues on the blue line throughout the season. Jeff himself missed a few games last year and at times felt he could have been better.

This year, Jeff's focus will be to further develop his game especially in the offensive zone as he prepares to make the leap from Junior hockey to University hockey. After that first pre-camp skate, I was able to catch up with Jeff and talk to him a little bit about his thoughts heading in to his third and final season with the Spruce Kings.

"We have a lot of fresh faces and younger lineup," said Jeff Earnest via a Skype conversation. "But we are bigger and stronger especially on the back end and I see a lot of depth this year. I felt good out there, like I have purpose and I felt stronger as a player. It feels right coming back for another season with the Spruce Kings."

"I want a full complete season where I can put it all out there," continued Earnest. "I missed a few games because of being sick and I also spent some time on the back end as a defenceman which helped to round out my game. It improved my game by allowing me to recognize more things on the ice. My scholarship is as a forward and I want to put in a full season up front and become a player that will be ready to make the jump to university hockey. I want to end my junior career on a high note and help to push this team as far as it can go. I want to be a leader and show the younger guys what they need to be doing out there on and off the ice."

If what I saw from Jeff during his first skate back in Prince George is any indication, I can see this veteran player being a very productive one and causing a lot of grief for the opposition. Jeff will be that power forward that won't be afraid to put on his hard hard and get to work in the dirty areas and bury some goals through grit and skill.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Allow Me To Introduce Myself...

Friday September 23rd is a very exciting day and one that I am personally looking forward to. Hey everyone, I'm Matt Anthony, and this season I will be taking over control of broadcasting duties for your Prince George Spruce Kings.

I figured the best way to get this ball rolling is to introduce myself. I am very new to Prince George, having only been here since the start of the summer. I spent last season in Nelson, BC doing home game webcasts and play by play for the Nelson Leafs in the KIJHL. The team had a bit of an up and down year that saw them get eliminated in 7 games of the first round. Although the team didn't get to go deep into the playoffs as one would hope, the season was a huge learning curve for myself and only helped solidify my want and desire to call hockey games on a regular basis. I've also been working in Radio the past few years as an on air announcer with Mountain FM in Castlegar, The Bridge in Nelson, BC and now with 94X in Prince George. I also spent last season being around the Trail Smoke Eaters (New Spruce King Ben Matthews and Dylan Tappe's former team) as they were broadcast on the radio station that I was working for. So although I do not bring any hands on BCHL experience, I am familiar with how exciting this league is.

There are many reasons to be excited about the Spruce Kings upcoming season. One being that this is the 40th anniversary season and two being that this team has seen a bunch of new and exciting faces added to the roster. This season see's something that has never been seen before as the Spruce Kings will dress a set of twins AND triplets. The Triplets actually already have some history with the Spruce Kings as all three brothers, while playing on a line together, scored a goal in three separate ways in one game. Plus the additions of Paul DeJersey, Ben Matthews, Jesse Ursic and the fact that we will see players returning to the Spruce Kings with experience under their belts makes this season one to watch.

I look forward to a fantastic season with you and the Spruce Kings, and I can assure you, it will be an exciting one. I bring a wealth of excitement and knowledge to each broadcast, and when September 23rd hits, you will hear that. Keep a constant eye on this blog, the Spruce Kings Twitter and facebook as I will add updates and analysis through out the season, starting with pre-camp skates on Wednesday. Please don't hesitate to ask questions and give me feedback as well. I Look forward to being a part of this history making 40th anniversary season Spruce Kings fans, let's make it a memorable one

See you at the rink,
Matt Anthony

Where is Gallo?

That's a legitimate question given that Ron Gallo (me) has been given the unofficial title of the voice of the Spruce Kings. Unfortunately that voice has barely been a whisper over the last couple of months. There have been the occasional tweets and Facebook posts, but the blog has been disappointingly quiet during this time. The good news is that is about to change with the introduction of a new voice for the Spruce Kings.

Very quickly, I just want to answer the original question as to where I have been. As the season came to an end, like most people my attention turned away from the arena and to other areas of interest. I was calling games in the Prince George Senior Lacrosse League but something else came up that has taken over a large percentage of the time I used to dedicate to the Spruce Kings. I am working with the Prince George Hospice Society as their Dream Home Lottery Coordinator and have the Spruce Kings to thank for that.

As many people in Prince George and around the Province of BC know, the Spruce Kings have long raised funds for their club through the sale of lottery tickets on their annual Show Home Lottery. The experience gained from this venture 29 years in the making has made the Spruce Kings a valuable asset to the Provincial Governments Gaming Enforcement and Policy Branch and many other lotteries around the province.

The Prince George Hospice Society is one entity that approached the Spruce Kings asking questions about a Dream Home Lottery they were planning. The long and short of that is the Spruce Kings were able to answer general questions and provide feedback and suggestions for the Hospice Society to help them get their lottery off the ground. An undertaking of a lottery of this magnitude is no small matter and it became apparent that the Hospice Society could use more of a full time help in the form of a person.

Yup, that person became me and now I can joke that my wish of being listed as a future consideration in a trade has come true. I have taken on the role of Dream Home Lottery Coordinator for the Hospice Society and in a very short time have gained a whole new level of appreciation for everything that Jim Young has done as the Show Home Lottery Manager for the Spruce Kings. But aside from that, I quickly learned that I simply wouldn't have the time or energy to put back in to the Spruce Kings as I have over the past few seasons so I had to make the tough decision of finding a replacement or at very least an assistant for me and the different things I try to do to help out the Prince George Spruce Kings.

At this time I would like to introduce to you Matt Anthony, I'll leave the particulars for him to present to you in his first blog that will be posted here on the Spruce Kings Crusader. Matt will be coming on board with the Spruce Kings to provide his insight with blog posts, tweets on the official Spruce Kings twitter feed (@SpruceKings) and also status updates on the Spruce Kings Facebook page. Matt will also become the broadcast voice of the Spruce Kings home webcasts and pay-per-view feed on the BCHL website.

I am excited to have a person with the energy and enthusiasm to contribute that Matt has already shown in his brief period in our community. Last season Matt was the broadcast voice of the Nelson Leafs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and will no doubt be looking forward to applying his experience to the Junior A level in the BCHL. Matt has a ton of potential and will quickly become a recognizable person with the Spruce Kings. Please make him feel welcome and continue to show your support of the Spruce Kings with emails, comments and feedback whenever you see us around the rink.