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.