(Photo by: Damon James Photography)
The Prince George Spruce Kings managed to claw back in a tight game with the Cowichan Valley Capitals, but some unfortunate bounces had the home team leaving for the Christmas break with a 4-2 victory.
Called up as an AP from the Saanich Braves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, the Spruce Kings had some familiar competition as former forward Nick Guerra was on the other side with the Capitals. He made an immediate impact as 5:44 in, he sprung Jared Domin for a breakaway. Tavin Grant didn’t have much of a chance as Domin was able to tuck a shot just inside the left post for the 1-0 lead. That led to the teddy bear toss in the Island Savings Centre, and shortly after the break the Caps doubled their lead. On another odd man rush, Captain Chris Harpur saucered a puck across the ice, and George Sennott beat a sprawling Grant for the 2-0 lead 7:25 into the game.
Prince George would head to a late power play, and were able to capitalize just 20 seconds in with Tyler Anderson scoring number ten on the season. The veteran defenseman took a feed from Ethan de Jong, and clanged a shot off the left post an in to make the score 2-1 heading to the first intermission.
The visitors would even the score as de Jong continued his scoring streak making it three straight games with a goal. He started the play by holding the puck at the blueline, and a spinning pass put the puck on the stick of billet brother Travis Schneider. The backhand shot was denied, but a huge rebound came to the left faceoff circle, and de Jong was there to even the score at two with 11:1 to go in the middle frame. Cowichan would retake the lead on their third power play of the evening as Tavin Grant played the puck from behind his net, but flubbed the attempt and it wound up on the stick of Ty Pochipinski. The 1998 forward made no mistake potting the puck into the empty net for the 3-2 lead just past the halfway mark.
Returning from playing for Team Canada West in the World Junior A Challenge, Kyle Johnson came close to evening the score again as he came in on an odd man rush as the trailer, but after taking the pass, his shot was gloved down by Adam Marcoux.
In the third, it was a wonky bounce against Tavin Grant that sealed the scoring. The Spruce Kings were set to head to the penalty kill, and Grant came out of his net to touch the puck on a dump in. The puck took a funny hop in the left faceoff circle, and went between the netminder’s legs before rolling into the empty net. 4-2 is where the game would remain as Prince George earned a late power play, but were unable to convert. Jarod Hovde thought he may have jammed in a late marker to get the team within one, but the refs waved it off.
The win for the Capitals evened the season series after they had fallen 5-3 to the Spruce Kings in the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena late in September. Picking up the first goal of the game, Tyler Anderson had a strong game as per usual, and was named the second star of the game. Prince George is back in action Sunday to wrap up their road trip before the Christmas break with a date against the Island leading Victoria Grizzlies. The Langley Rivermen scored a late tying goal against the Merritt Centennials, and won in overtime to retake third place in the Mainland division. Prince George does have two games in hand over Langley.