Entering the final weekend of the season, neither the Prince George Spruce Kings or the Surrey Eagles had much to gain both being out of the playoff picture. With the season series tied at two wins, two losses, and a tie for each team, the aim for PG was to win their first divisional series of the year.
Coming off a tie in their last game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, Prince George got off to a good start Saturday night with a 5-1 win.
Shortly after a Parker Colley goal was waved off, Kyle Johnson drove towards the net, and was able to deflect a pass past Daniel Davidson. Cavin Tilsley was the one centring the puck, and it was his first point in what would be a first star evening.
In the second, Connor Logan continued his dominance against the Eagles, taking a pass from Tilsley, and blasting a one timer in for his fourth goal in three games against Surrey.
The visitors would respond with five minutes left in the period, as Kurt Black took a pass, and beat McLeod ending the shutout opportunity. Less than two minutes later, though, Tilsley would complete the evening stealing the puck away, and sending a one handed shot into the net for his third point. Prince George would head to the period up by two, but that was thanks to some help from the refs.
A Surrey forward barrelling towards the net had the puck go off his midsection and into the net, but the goal was immediately waved off. The refs consulted, and determined that the puck had been gloved in.
That would prove valuable, as just four minutes into the third Braiden Epp scored, taking a pass from Matt Stief who was able to regain his two point team lead over Johnson who had clawed within one earlier in the game with his goal.
It took a few more looks than the coaches would’ve liked, but the Spruce Kings were finally able to find the open net late in the game with Davidson pulled. Logan was the goal scorer picking up his 5th game in the last three games against Surrey.
Joseph McLeod made 20 saves for the 5-1 win, which marked his first victory since early January against the Coquitlam Express. Logan with his pair of goals earned the third star, Jarod Hovde earned second, and Tilsley with the goal and two helpers was the first star.
The final game of the year Sunday afternoon also marked the final game of junior hockey for three players. Hometown boy Stephen Penner was suiting up for the last time, while Kurt Black and Justin LaForest from the Eagles were playing in their final games.
Right from the start the night was focussed on Stephen Penner. For warmups, the team let him do a lap of the rink of his own, a solo round right before the national anthem, and he earned a large applause in the announcement of him in the starting lineup. His family was in attendance wearing jerseys from throughout his hockey career (we’ll forgive the one Trail jersey in attendance), but the celebrations wouldn’t just last during the pre-game.
Normally prone to allowing early/late goals, the Spruce Kings were on the opposite end of the spectrum on Sunday. Just 31 seconds into the game, Penner flicked a pass ahead to Hovde who brought the puck down the left side, and beat LaForest for the early lead.
Not wanting to go down by multiple goals like the night prior, Surrey would reply just past the halfway mark, as Austin Anselmo used the lively backboards to his advantage. From the blueline he fired a puck off, and that bounced all the way back out into the slot. Robert Johnson got the first touch on it, and Jaxon Joseph finished things off slipped the puck past McCloskey.
Redeeming his disallowed goal the night prior, Parker Colley came down the left side, and beat LaForest five hole. It was Colley’s 4th goal of the season, but it was his first not on a breakaway. That goal game with just over a minute left in the first period to send PG into the 2nd with the lead.
In the middle frame, Prince George came out firing again, as Nic Ponak and Jarod Hovde each scored in the middle frame. Hovde’s second of the night came with just 1:36 remaining in the period.
Early in the third and leading by three already, Tilsley potted his second in as many games to give PG a commanding 5-1 lead.
Shortly after that there was a mini scrum behind the net, and Tanner Campbell dropped the gloves with Hermary Brown. Not liking his smaller teammate in a fight, Adam Burnett jumped in, and tacked Brown to the ice quickly ending that bru-ha-ha. Brown, Burnett, and Campbell all received game misconducts, with Tanner picking up an extra penalty for goalie interference.
Paul McAvoy would score for the Eagles on the power play cutting the Spruce Kings lead to three with 16:30 left in the game. With Penticton falling a few nights prior to Merritt when leading after two periods, that left PG as the only team to never lose when they held the lead going into the final frame.
They wouldn’t let that stat slip away, as with 13 minutes remaining, Jarod Hovde scored his third goal of the night to secure the hat-trick. It was the first hat-trick any Spruce Kings player had scored in the 2015/16 season. Kyle Johnson picked up an assist, getting him within one of Matt Stief. That wouldn’t last long though, as Stief picked up his fifth goal of the year just a minute later to ice the game at 7-2.
Liam McCloskey had 21 saves in the win, while Penner had three assists earning him first star of the night in the final game of his junior career. Jarod Hovde’s hat-trick earned him a second star for the second time in as many games, and Cavin Tilsley also reappeared on the three star seletion picking up a third star for his goal and assist.
With two wins on the weekend, it marked the first time the Spruce Kings have done that all season long. The game was followed up with a family skate sponsored by local MLA’s Shirley Bond and Mike Morris.