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Spruce Kings score early to derail Express

Photo courtesy of Vicki Brown Photography

With the gap in the Mainland Division only getting tighter by the game, the Prince George Spruce Kings found a way to keep pace on Friday thanks to a 4-2 victory over the Coquitlam Express.

The home team dominated the territorial play , outshooting the last-place Express by a 36-17 margin.

It only took 3:17 seconds for the Spruce Kings to draw first blood as Ben Brar ripped his 10th of the season past Coquitlam goaltender Brock Hamm for an early 1-0 lead.

After a sloppy Prince George power-play, the Express found a way to even the score shorthanded courtesy of a breakaway goal from Riley Johnson.

Captain Kyle Johnson restored the lead, also while shorthanded to give the Spruce Kings a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Prince George added to its advantage in the middle frame while on the special-teams as Ben Poisson continued his offensive hot streak with his 12th of the season extending the lead to 3-1 after two periods.

Despite an undisciplined third period, Ethan de Jong iced the victory at the 3:05 mark of the middle frame as he tapped home a Dylan Anhorn feed.

Johnson says the team missed some good opportunities to score, even though they came away with the two points.

“We had the chance to make the lead a little wider at times and they’re goalie kept them in there, credit to him (Hamm) but I think we can do more for sure.”

“However, we did outcompete them in all zones, five-on-five we won a lot of battles and got up ice quickly and had sustained pressure in their zone and that’s a big thing for us to outcompete teams like that.”

The victory had a special meaning to newly-acquired forward Blake Hayward who suited up for the Express last season.

“It’s an emotional experience playing your old team for the first time but I was super-excited to see all those guys and especially to come out and beat them, I was really happy with that.”

Hayward is still adjusting to life as a Spruce King with two points in his first five games.

He believes a greater contribution offensively could help lift him off the ground.

“I think I am fitting in well but I need to start producing more points, I have to put up some more numbers. I had a wide-open net and I just missed it.”

The Spruce Kings improve to 13-10-2-3 on the season and will play the rematch against Coquitlam Saturday at 7 PM from the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.