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Grant Wins BCHL Debut As Spruce Kings Beat Caps 5-3

(Photo by Matt Jensen Photography)

Tavin Grant didn’t quite get off to the start he wanted as a Prince George Spruce King, but managed to recover and steer┬áhis team to their first winning streak of the season.

While it was Prince George applying the pressure early, the Cowichan Valley Capitals were able to turn the tide, and score on their first shot of the game. Ayden MacDonald taking a pass from Max Newton was able to pick the top left corner for the 1-0 lead. Tavin Grant was making his first start as a Spruce King, after being signed from the Prince George Cougars.

MacDonald would even things up late in the period though, as he took a late penalty sending Prince George to the power play. Sam De Melo would take a point shot, and Ethan de Jong shovelled a rebound on net with it bouncing over to Cavin Tilsley to bang in from the side of the net tying the game at one with 2:08 left in the period. Prince George would continue peppering Adam Marcoux, leading in shots 20-7 after the first.

In the second period, thanks to stellar goaltending from Marcoux, the Capitals were able to hold on again, and convert with just under five minutes left as Ty Pochipinksi tipped in a point shot from Josh Owings for his first BCHL goal. Instead of heading to third down a goal, the Spruce Kings would battle back, and tie the game with 20 seconds late. Adam Burnett took a shot intentionally wide of the net, and Kyle Johnson had the puck bounce off the back wall, and right to him in the slot beating Marcoux glove side the tie the game at two.

In the final period, Prince George took the first lead of the game as Hunter Luhmann scored his first goal in the BCHL. After a great first two periods, Luhmann barrelled down the right wing on a two-on-one with Ben Poisson. With no goals in his first five games, Luhmann took the shot, and made no mistake going short side on Marcoux.

Minutes later a scrum in front of the Cowichan net , the Spruce Kings came away with an extra penalty, sending the Capitals to a man-advantage. Another Cowichan forward was able to score his first BCHL goal, as George Sennott scored the tying goal with 13 minutes left in the game.

Both teams would exchange chances, but thanks to great play from the goalies, it looked as if the game would be headed to extra time. The Spruce Kings captain had other ideas though, as Brett Mennear who had three points the night before against Trail had been held off the score sheet for the first two periods. From the left wall, he would saucer a pass across to Connor Russel, and the former Cap made no mistake beating the goalie for the 4-3 lead with two minutes to go.

Max Newton would drop the gloves late to scrap Cavin Tilsley, but the Spruce Kings forward wasn’t having any of it, and that sent the Spruce Kings to the power play with 44 seconds remaining, and Prince George was happy to kill off the final minutes and take the 6-4 decision.

The win moved the Prince George to third in the Mainland Division as Langley lost to the Wild on Friday night. Prince George now has seven points, while Langley and Coquitlam both have five, but have two games in hand over the Spruce Kings.

After being outscored 23-6 in three games at home against the Wenatchee Wild two weeks ago, Prince George now has a chance to return the favour travelling south of the border next week for games on Friday and Saturday against their American opponent. The Wild lead the overall series 9-1-0-1 over the Spruce Kings dating back to last season.