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Back-and-forth battle ends with Spruce Kings locking up 10th win in Merritt

(Photo Courtesy: Garrett James)

MERRITT ­– The Prince George Spruce Kings secured their 10th win of the season after defeating the Merritt Centennials 7-5 on Friday at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

It was a rare late afternoon puck drop for the Spruce Kings on Friday when they caught up with the Centennials for the second matchup in as many nights between the two sides. The Cents defeated PG the night before in a 3-2 decision but Friday turned out to be a game where no team led by more than one goal until the final minute of regulation.

In the first period, Merritt got out to a quick start of a snapshot from Erik Sollied just 22 seconds into the game. The shot caught Spruce Kings goalie Jordan Fairlie by surprise, bouncing off his shoulder and off the inside of the near post before trickling in for the score.

Prince George was able to answer relatively quickly after. Centreman Luke Eurig, from a tight angle to the left of the Merritt net, fired a shot onto the net and snuck it in past Conor Sullivan to draw the score even at 1-1. The goal came at 5:07 of the first period.

The next four goals would be scored by the same two players. First, it was Walker Erickson reestablishing the Merritt lead in the first period at 7:56. Then, it was Jake Schneider knotting it back up for PG with his fifth goal of the season to send the game into the first intermission tied at 2-2.

In the second period, Erickson got it started the same way they did in the first with an early goal. This one came just one second later than their game-opening tally at 23 seconds. But then at 3:34, Schneider tied things back up with his sixth of the season.

Inside the eighth minute of the period, Eurig sped in past the opposing blue line before finding a blazing Linden Makow down in the slot. The two connected for a pass before Makow put the moves on Sullivan, leading to a backhanded goal by Makow to give Prince George their first lead of the game at 4-3.

Inside the final minute of the period, however, Jaxson Murray tied the game back up ahead of intermission.

In the third period, defenceman Kai Greaves gave PG their lead back with his second of the season. Greaves was fed the puck up top of the offensive zone before putting a shot on net and bardown for the goal. The goal came at 3:59 of the final period.

The Centennials responded a few minutes later. Coleman Jenkins was able to shake the monkey off his back and scored his first of the season after being set up by teammate Ryan Spinale in tight to the net.

That would wrap up the scoring for the home side, however, the Spruce Kings weren’t done.

At 13:54, Evan Fedele put PG ahead again by one with his second goal of the season. Schneider earned his third point of the night while Jack Stockfish registered his third assist of the night on the play.

Prince George held on to their single-goal lead into the final minutes of play when the Centennials were forced to pull their goalie in favour of an extra attacker, but Kilian McGregor-Bennett was able to break up a pass high in the defensive zone before speeding past the Centennials players and backhanding a shot into the empty net to secure the win.

Jordan Fairlie stopped 23 of the 28 shots he faced on the night. Meanwhile, Sullivan made 38 saves on 45 shots.

Prince George’s record improves to 10-5-1-1 while Merritt sees their record drop to 5-10-2-0.\

The Spruce Kings will be back in action on Wednesday when they play host to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at Kopar Memorial Arena at 7:00 PM.

The team will then head back on the road the following day for two games. They will face the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday, November 18 at 7:00 PM and then the Penticton Vees on Saturday (Nov. 19).