(Photo by EnsLens Photography)
Eerily similar to last year. That’s what can be said about this year’s start to the season for the Prince George Spruce Kings. Last year was a rough beginning for the Kings going 0-4 and being outscored 22-2. This year saw the northern squad go 0-4-0-1 to start, scoring 8 goals and allowing 29.
Last year the Spruce Kings earned their first win at the Showcase with a 6-3 decision. This year to find their first victory it took until game one of the showcase as well with PG winning 7-2 against the Merritt Centennials.
The team got off to a blazing start scoring three goals on three shots and getting Jacob Berger. Kicking things off was Brett Mennear who burst down the right wing, and picked the top right corner for goal number one. It was a good day overall for the Prince George captain as he also received his “Triple Crown” championship ring from the West Kelowna Warriors after they won the Fred Page Cup, Western Canada Cup, and RBC Cup last year.
Less than a minute later it was Braiden Epp going five hole on Berger to double the lead on the second shot of the night. Ben Poisson would score his second of the season in what wound up being the game winning goal. Similar to Mennear’s goal, Poisson came down the right side on a two-on-one with Ethan de Jong, and beat Berger under the blocker. It was Poisson’s 3rd BCHL tally, and a nice one personally as his two other goals were the lone goals scored in 5-1 losses once this year, and once last year to the Wenatchee Wild.
The attack would be halted for the next while, but would break through again before the period was up. Coming off the left wall, Drew Lennon unleashed a shot that was kicked out a country mile by Colten Lancaster. The puck came right to Cavin Tilsley where he had three quarters of the net to shot at, and would make no mistake potting his first of the season.
In the second, it was PG bumping their lead to 5-0 as this time it was Lennon getting on the board with his first BCHL goal. Chong Lee took a shot from the left that wound up bouncing off a Merritt defender’s skate, then flipping up into the air where Lennon directed it into the net. Merritt would break Liam McCloskey’s shutout bid three minutes later as Brett Jewell who had a goal and assist in the season opener against PG ripped down the right side and beat the netminder making his first start since being pulled against Wenatchee last Wednesday. McCloskey wasn’t tested too much in the first two periods, but held the tide in the third with the Cents pushing and firing 11 shots on net plus controlling most of the offensive play.
The Spruce Kings would strike twice in the fibal frame, with the power play finally clicking for a goal. Setting up in the right faceoff circle, Jamie Huber took a feed from Campbell, and lasered a shot off the sliding goalie and into the net. The goal was identical to the pair that he scored in the exhibition season against the Grande Prairie Storm. It was Huber’s first goal since the home opener.
The Centennials would reply with a power play goal of their own which seemed to give the team some hope. Standing in front of the net, Zachary Zorn was able to perfectly tip a Mark O’Shaughnessy point shot past McCloskey. Down 6-2 with three and a half minutes to go, Merritt would pull their goalie looking for a miracle.
The luck would roll in favour of the Spruce Kings though as Liam Watson-Brawn was able to scoop the puck up from his own zone, and clear it down the ice where it slid across the ice banking off the post and into the net for the Burnaby Winter Club alumni’s first BCHL goal.
With four helpers on the night, Tanner Campbell was named the games first start. Opneing the scoring Mennear took home second star, and with a goal and two assists Drew Lennon was named the third star. Ethan de Jong who assisted on Ben Poisson’s game winning goal was the Fortis Energy Player of the Game.
|3:37||PG||Brett Mennear (3) ASST: Jamie Huber (3)|
|4:43||PG||Braiden Epp (1) ASST: Tanner Campbell (1), Drew Lennon (2)|
|6:57||PG||Ben Poisson (2) ASST: Ethan de Jong (3), Travis Schneider (2)|
|16:28||PG||Cavin Tilsley (1) ASST: Drew Lennon (3)|
|4:20||PG||Drew Lennon (1) ASST: Chong Lee (3), Tanner Campbell (2)|
|7:30||MER||Brett Jewell (2) ASST: Michael Van Unen (3), Marshall Skapski (2)|
|4:16||PG||Jamie Huber (2) ASST: Tanner Campbell (3), Adam Burnett(2) (PP)|
|13:36||MER||Zachary Zorn (1) ASST: Mark O’Shaughnessy (3), Marshall Skapski (3) (PP)|
|18:11||PG||Liam Watson-Brawn (1) ASST: Adam Burnett (3), Tanner Campbell (4) (EN)|