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Spruce Kings defensive core rock-solid against Express in Game 1 win

Photo courtesy of Chuck Chin

It didn’t take long for the defense of the Prince George Spruce Kings to get set the tone.

In what is considered the best defensive core in the BCHL, which has the likes of Liam Watson-Brawn, Layton Ahac and Dylan Anhorn just to name a few, the group stifled the Coquitlam Express to just 22 shots in a 3-1 victory in Game 1 of the Mainland Division best-of-seven semifinals in front of <strong>1,267</strong> fans at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.

“We shut it down in the third, we just tried to keep it simple and get the puck out of our end so they couldn’t do anything with it. We played aggressively and limited their chances,” said Watson-Brawn post-game.

“We have one of the top d-cores in the league and that really helps and we have a really great goalie. If we just give the puck to our forwards they can score and we have confidence we can keep the puck out of our net and protect the lead.”

Ben Poisson got the crowd on its feet just 3:45 into the first period capitalizing on a Lucas Vanroboys feed to make it 1-0 past Express netminder Clay Stevenson.

Coquitlam evened the score 45 seconds into the middle frame as Connor Gregga beat Neaton on the power-play.

However, the tie lasted less than five minutes though as Layton Ahac ripped home a point shot, top-shelf to out the Spruce Kings back on top for good.

Prince George was <strong>23-6-0-0</strong> at the RMCA during the regular season and Watson-Brawn believes his team has a distinct advantage when they step onto home ice.

“I think we have the best fans in the league. That really helps our play and is a hard environment for the other team to come out and have success so, it’s a big key for us.”

Dustin Manz scored  his first of the post-season into an empty net with less than minute to go in the game.

Game Two goes tonight at 7pm from the RMCA, if you are unable to make it to the rink, you can hear Brendan Pawliw call the action on Hockey TV, MixLR and 93.1 CFIS.

The Spruce Kings got a little surprise on the out-of-town scoreboard on Friday as the Langley Rivermen defeated the Chilliwack Chiefs 5-4 to take a 1-0 series lead in the other Mainland Division semi-final series.

The winner of that will face off against either Prince George or Coquitlam in round two.