Prince George travelled down to the Lower Mainland for a set of mid-late week games. The first two matchups were against Chilliwack and Langley who the Spruce Kings had only seen once each this far into the season. Then Friday marked the third meeting between Prince George and the Coquitlam Express who they are currently chasing in the playoffs.
The Spruce Kings started off strong against Chilliwack, but couldn’t find a way all game to beat Matteo Esposito of the Chilliwack Chiefs.
Heading into the game, Prince George was coming off an up and down weekend when they beat nationally ranked Salmon Arm 4-3, then fell 7-3 the next to Powell River. As the coaches have said all season long, consistency has been an issue, so there were all kind of guesses as to what would happen against the powerhouse Chiefs.
PG outshot the home team 11-7 after the first period, but allowed a pair of goals. In the first game against they Chiefs they were held without a power play, but had two in the first period, and five total in the game. Scoring first was Mark Esposito with a wrist shot from the right point that found the top left corner, and then late in the period it was Jesse Lansdell getting a second tip on a shot from the point to fool McCloskey, and take a 2-0 lead into the second.
That’s where the Chiefs started to take over, and they smothered the Spruce King attack. Chilliwack burst out for 15 shots, while Prince George managed seven. Liam McCloskey managed to hold the opposition at bay, besides a nice feed from Austin Adam to Jordan Kawaguchi who was able to bat in the puck for his team leading 31st point of the year.
Once again the Spruce Kings were unable to respond, and eventually in the third allowed the final goal of the game in a scramble where Brendan Shane managed to shovel in the puck for his second goal of the year.
In the last game the two teams played, Braiden Epp scored the lone goal for PG, which was a tip from right in front of the net. Flash forward two weeks, and Epp had a chance midway through the third identical to the game two weeks back, but Matteo Esposito to come up with the big save to preserve his third shutout of the season in just 11 games.
The next night it was off the Langley where the Spruce Kings had visited for the Rivermen’s home opener where they fell 5-0 to the home team while only getting 10 shots off.
The Spruce Kings finally did finally a goal against Bo Didur though. He had a shutout streak of nearly 5 ½ periods against PG before Braiden Epp managed to get a tip past him. It would be the one goal Prince George scored in a 4-1 loss to the Langley Rivermen.
In the first Prince George was heavily outgunned being outshot 16-5. Despite that stat, the period ended scoreless. Sam Tanguay earned his first start in net since last Wednesday, and was brilliant in the first period keeping Prince George in the game.
The second period was a different story, as Langley only had six shots, but scored on two of them in a span of just under a minute. First it was Zachary Bleuler at the side of the net taking a shot, and the rebound bounced right to Justin Szeto who scored on the rebound for the first goal of the game. Then it was Adam Sinclair getting wide open in the slot, and wristing a shot past the glove of Tanguay.
Prince George would eventually break past Didur in the third as Matt Stief took a shot from the slot that was tipped in front by Epp to bring the game within one goal. It would the Spruce Kings getting the next goal though, as Justin Fregona scored his team leading 19th goal which is good for 5th best in the BCHL tied with Matthew Hoover from the Nanaimo Clippers. Torrin White would eventually score the late empty netter on a sharp angled shot to seal the deal at 4-1.
Then against the Express, with Prince George’s captain out, Coquitlam’s took over.
Jackson Cressey scored the first goal for Coquitlam, and the last, as he completed a hat-trick in a 6-3 win over the Spruce Kings. It was the third meeting between the two teams, after they split a pair in Prince George with PG winning the first night 3-2, then the Express exacting revenge the next night with a narrow 2-1 decision.
The first goal in the first was a rebound, where Cressey was able to get a hold of the puck in front of the net after a shot from Charlie Barrow. Three minutes later it was Noah Turanski getting a point shot through a screen to earn his first goal of the season.
In the second it was all Prince George though. Liam McCloskey shut the door on all 10 shots, and the power play that had been sputtering managed to get rolling. The man advantage had been shutout in the past three games, and was definitely missing the big shot of Jake LeBrun from the left faceoff point. Adam Brubacher would finally break through, and drill a shot past Fenton to tie LeBrun in goals scored with 11 on the season. Then a few minutes later Bryan Basilico stole the puck on the left boards, and managed to drag the puck to his backhand and just squeeze the puck in past a sprawled Fenton tying the game at two.
Alex Stoley gave Prince George their first lead 1:03 into the third period with his first goal of the season. Corey Hoffman won the faceoff back to him, and he skated down the left boards before cutting towards the net, and sending a shot in off the far post and in.
Then mayhem struck as the Express scored two goals in 19 seconds starting less than a minute after Prince George scored to regain the lead at 4-3. The first was a beautiful play by the speedy Erik Udahl as he sped up the left side of the ice, and then while falling across the slot managed to get a shot past McCloskey for a beautiful goal. Then it was the captain Cressey scoring his second of the night to restore his team’s lead. Bertsch would score just before the halfway mark, to double the lead. Corey Hoffman thought he had scored to get the game within one goal a few minutes later, but the refs determined that the goal went off the crossbar instead of the back bar and out.
Jackson Cressey completed his hat-trick scoring shorthanded into an empty net for Coquitlam’s first goal while down a man on the ice.