Venue: South Surrey Arena
Game Time: Thursday February 2nd 2017 @6:30
With three games left against the Surrey Eagles (16-29-3-0) this season, if the Prince George Spruce Kings (20-21-4-2) can win the trio they will lock in a playoff spot.
Night one goes tonight in the fifth matchup between these two teams. Prince George is undefeated this season against Surrey at home, but in the lone matchup at the South Surrey Arena the northern boys fell in overtime. The hero of that game Nick Minerva who scored in double overtime is now gone though after being shipped out to the RBC Cup host Coburn Cougars.
Prince George is on their third roadtrip in a row, with each one getting better. They were swept in a pair of games against Wenatchee two weeks ago, and last week came out with three of a possible six point down against three Interior teams. The last game looked to be in the bag with the Spruce Kings leading 4-1 with seven minutes to go in the third, but the Vernon Vipers were able to make the comeback and eventually win 5-4 in double overtime. The loss was tough to swallow, but coming out with three points on a tough roadtrip wasn’t too bad for Prince George who went in winless in the previous five.
2017 has been an up and down year for the Surrey Eagles. They started with six straight losses highlighted by a 19-3 thumping at the hands of the Trail Smoke Eaters. Five days later though at home the Eagles were able to reverse the tables and beat Trail 7-3 on home ice. That was followed by three losses (including once to the last place Coquitlam Express who have now beat them twice in 2017) but are coming off a high scoring 9-5 win against the Nanaimo Clippers. While the road has been brutal to Surrey with a 5-20-1-0 record, home ice on their Olympic sized ice has been good to the team as they currently have an 11-9-2-0 record while scoring 90 goals in those 22 games.
Playing two of the hottest teams in the BCHL the next two nights in the Langley Rivermen and Chilliwack Chiefs, Prince George needs a win tonight as a confidence booster going up against much more challenging opponents soon. With that in mind, the team can’t overlook the Surrey Eagles who have been known to have breakout games especially on home ice.
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Tonight is a must win for the Surrey Eagles. The last three games against Prince George essentially are, and even if Surrey can win all three there’s no guarantee they will pass the Spruce Kings for the final spot in the Mainland playoffs. After 47 games, the Spruce Kings have an 11 point lead over the Surrey Eagles and one game in hand. On the other side, Langley is 11 points ahead of Prince George for third in the division. While the lead is substantial, the Rivermen have a tough schedule to close out the season playing Wenatchee, Chilliwack, and Prince George in their final seven games. The Spruce Kings will need the head to head games in order to catch up.
WHO TO WATCH:
Ben Brar – FWD: Last weekend was arguably his best as a Spruce King. His five points in three games was a career high for points in that span. He opened the scoring against Merritt, and sealed the game into an empty net. After picking up one assist against Salmon Arm on Saturday, Brar scored his second power play goal of the weekend with another tip in front of the net Sunday against Vernon. The big forward now has 19 points and 4 goals on the power play in 24 games with Prince George. In his 76 game tenure with Penticton, he had 13 points in total.
Jarod Hovde – FWD: One player the Spruce Kings need going offensively is Jarod Hovde. Last weekend the line of Brett Mennear, Chong Lee, and Brar scored all but two of the team’s goals. With three tough teams on the schedule this weekend, the team will need secondary scoring, and Jarod Hovde with 35 points in 47 games can do just that. He has one point in the last six games, but has seven points in four games against Surrey. Those seven points came in just two games, with the Alberta forward breaking out with five in the first meeting.
Desi Burgart – FWD: With a number of weapons leaving around the trade deadline, one of the players to emerge has been ’98 forward Burgart. In 37 games last year and six points with the Penticton Vees, he has far surpassed his production similar to Ben Brar since joining the Spruce Kings. This season he is nearly playing at a point per game pace with 40 points in 42 games. He was a linemate with Kyle Johnson at the World Junior A Challenge, and is tied with Jeffrey Stewart for the team lead in points against PG with one goal and three assists in four games. He has seven points in his last five games.
Ty Westgard – FWD: Simply put, Ty Westgard hasn’t been the same player he was last year for the Surrey Eagles before leaving to play for the Victoria Royals of the WHL. In the 2015/16 season he had 22 points in 25 games, and in 24 games this year year he has 11 points. He had five points in his first three games, and then went on a nine game point drought. He has been picking it up lately though with one assist in each of the last three games. This year in his lone game against PG he had one goal and one assist.
Spruce Kings @ Langley Rivermen – Friday February 3rd, 7:15pm – George Preston Arena
Spruce Kings @ Chilliwack Chiefs – Saturday February 4th, 7pm – Prospera Centre
Spruce Kings @ Surrey Eagles – Saturday February 11th, 6:30pm – South Surrey Arena