Entering the weekend the Spruce Kings were up against two elite teams in the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, and the Powell River Kings. They had seen each team once already in the season, beating Salmon Arm 4-3 in Salmon, and losing 6-2 in Powell River.
The Spruce Kings lost their captain in the first game, but had other leaders step up. Every player that scored Saturday either had a letter on their chest, or was a returning player from last year.
Heading into the game, the stats were daunting to say the least. Prince George was taking on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks who had won 10-1 the night before, and were second in the Interior Division. Goals For vs Goals against were a total opposite, as the Spruce Kings had scored 56 goals all season, and Salmon Arm had only allowed 54. Meanwhile the Silverbacks had scored 104 goals, and PG had allowed 104.
Sometimes stats are meant to be thrown out the window though. It was the Spruce Kings dominating early, and led 7-2 on shots early on. The Silverbacks would strike first though, as a funny bounce behind the net led to a pass out front where Josh Laframboise was all alone on the doorstep to slam home the first goal of the game.
Later on, Mitch Newsome took Jake LeBrun hard into the boards, and dropped the Prince George captain to the ice. Adam Burnett would come in and drop the gloves with the Salmon Arm player, but it was a scary scene as LeBrun remained down. He would stay down for a few minutes, and finally skate off under his own power, but he didn’t return to the game.
The Spruce Kings wouldn’t quit though, and it was an unlikely goal scorer ending the period on a good note. Stephen Penner had one goal coming into the game, and that was an empty netter scored earlier in the year against the Trail Smoke Eaters. This time Penner in net though, as he sent a wrister from the point into the top left corner. It looked to be more of a dump in, but managed to elude Brandon Kegler and find the top shelf. That would tie the game at one heading to the second period.
That was where special teams took over. Between the two teams, all five of the next goals were scored while on the power play. Salmon Arm started the period on the power play, and would wind up converting as Carson Bolduc sent a slap pass into the slot for Taro Hirose to knock home to restore the Silverback lead.
Later on it was Adam Brubacher with his second goal in as many games. On the power play it was a beautiful play as Bryan Basilico fed Corey Hoffman in the slot, and as two Silverback players converged on him, he dropped a pass back to Brubacher who slapped it home to tie the game at two. The assist was Hoffman’s first point since October 24th when he scored against the Coquitlam Express.
The third would start the same as the second, as Salmon Arm would begin on the man advantage. They didn’t score on the first one, but had 20 seconds of 5-on-3, and would capitalize after Bryan Basilico emerged from the box to take the 3-2 lead.
Prince George would earn a late 5-on-3 of their own, and didn’t let the chance slip away. First it was Adam Brubacher and Matt Stief playing pass at the top of the circles, and with Brubacher already with one goal, the Silverbacks focussed in preventing a shot from him. Matt Stief didn’t want to be left out, so he took a pass, and rocketed the puck in to tie the game, and extend his point streak to nine games.
With the two man advantage over, the Spruce Kings still had a power play for over a minute. This time it was Braiden Epp potting home his first power play goal of the season. The third year forward found the puck in front of the net, and dug at the puck hard enough that it just crossed the goal line to give PG their first lead of the game.
Corey Hoffman took a penalty with two minutes left, and Salmon Arm would pull Kegler for most of the power play, but couldn’t take advantage, with Prince George closing things out to take the 4-3 decision. The same score as when the Spruce Kings beat the Silverbacks early in October.
Sunday afternoon the Spruce Kings were out for revenge against the Powell River Kings.
The first period was back and forth with no goals, the second period started well for the Spruce Kings, but Powell River took over from there.
In their second and final meeting of the season, Prince George looked to avoid the season sweep against Chad van Diemen’s old team. The first outing ended in a 6-2 loss in Powell River, but this time the Spruce Kings were coming off a win, instead of a 16 hour road trip the day before.
Nothing too wild happened in the first, as neither team could beat the other although Prince George led 12-7 in shots.
Four minutes into the second period, and it was the Spruce Kings up 2-0. First it was Connor Logan, and the Nick Guerra scoring both goals being their second of the season. Just two minutes later though it was Powell River picking up two quick goals, as Mullin and Evans scored 50 seconds apart from one another to knot the game at 2.
Cavin Tilsley would jam in the puck later in the period, but the refs would wave it off saying they didn’t see the puck cross the goal line.
That would prove costly, as in the third as Mullin scored his second goal of the game while on the man advatge to take their first lead of the game. Flash ahead six minutes, and in the blink of an eye Powell River extended their lead to 5-3 thanks to two goals just 13 seconds apart.
Later in the period Matt Stief burst down the left wing, and wired one under the bar extending his point streak to ten games, and bringing his team within two. Prince George would earn a late power play, but it was Powell River taking advantage as Kyle Betts was able to get the puck up the left wing, and then beat Stief to the puck before sending it into the empty net. Then Austin Kamer went down on a shorthanded breakaway, and scored with just one second left on the clock to ice the game at 7-3.