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Spruce Kings earn 3-1 victory in physical battle over Silverbacks

(Photo Courtesy: Vicki Brown)

SALMON ARM – Playing in their third game in as many nights on Sunday, the Prince George Spruce Kings put everything they had left in the tank out on the ice and came up with a 3-1 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks at the Shaw Centre.

Jordan Fairlie was kept busy in the winning effort between the pipes, completing a 35-save performance to earn his 18th win of the season. Meanwhile, the Spruce Kings improve their record to 21-16-2-1 and take sole possession of the fourth spot in the Interior Division standings. The Silverbacks’ record sits at 19-15-4-1 and ranks fifth.

Matthew Tovell was handed the loss as he allowed two goals on 26 shots.

The win brought a positive note to the end of a three-game road trip weekend that saw the Spruce Kings lose Friday night to Cranbrook 4-3, and then get doubled up 6-3 by the Smoke Eaters in Trail on Saturday.

The scoring opened in the first period when Scott Cousins forced a turnover in the Salmon Arm zone before feeding the puck to Linden Makow along the right wing. Makow fired a shot in past Matthew Tovell to put Prince George on the board. The goal went down as Makow’s 10th of the season.

A scoreless second period allowed Prince George to carry a 1-0 lead into the second intermission, however, they found themselves pressed up on their heels as the Silverbacks outshot them 16-3 during the middle frame.

In the third period, another turnover inside the Salmon Arm zone proved to be costly for the Silverbacks. John Herrington picked the pocket of a ‘Backs skater before feeding the puck over to Kilian McGregor-Bennett. The initial shot was blocked, but McGregor-Bennett was able to send the puck back to Herrington in the slot who fired the puck to the corner of the net to make it a 2-0 game. Herrington added to his team-leading goals tally with his 18th of the season.

Penalties were an issue throughout the game with a combined 32 penalty minutes being dished out over the course of the game in what was a physical game between the two sides. In the third period, those penalties resulted in Prince George being down two skaters as Salmon Arm pushed to get themselves back into the game. The Silverbacks opted to pull Tovell to make it a six-on-three situation as Ty Gagno and Herrington both found themselves in the penalty box.

Prince George successfully killed off the first penalty, however, with Herrington still in the box, the Silverbacks were able to get themselves on the board with an Ethan Ullrick power-play goal at 18:31 of the third period.

With the score 2-1, the Silverbacks kept their net empty and Prince George was able to get the puck in past the Silverbacks’ defence and up to Gagno for an empty-net goal to put the cap on the winning effort as the Spruce Kings won 3-1.

The victory marks Prince George’s first against Salmon Arm this season after falling in two previous meetings at the Shaw Centre.

The Spruce Kings now return home to prepare for a weekend double-header against the Merritt Centennials at Kopar Memorial Arena next weekend. Games will be played on Friday (February 10) and Saturday with 7:00 p.m. puck-drops scheduled for both games.

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Spruce Kings: Makow, Herrington, Gagno

Silverbacks: Ullrick


Spruce Kings: Jordan Fairlie (W) 60:00 (1 GA, 35 saves)

Silverbacks: Matthew Tovell (L) 57:58 (2 GA, 24 saves)


Spruce Kings: 0/5 (0%)

Silverbacks: 1/8 (13%)


Spruce Kings: 27

Silverbacks: 36

Next Game: Friday, February 10 versus the Merritt Centennials at Kopar Memorial Arena in Prince George, BC.