The Prince George Spruce Kings (25-27-4-2) are back in the playoffs this season, and they will be taking on the Wenatchee Wild (45-9-4-0) in the first round of the Mainland Division semi-finals.
This season the Wenatchee Wild won all seven meetings, outscoring the Spruce Kings 46-13. In three games at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena, Prince George was outscored 23-6, and down in Wenatchee it was 23-7 in four games at the Town Toyota Center.
Wenatchee finished the season outscoring opponents 32-6 in the last five games.
Regular Season Series:
Wenatchee 5 @ Prince George 1 September 14th 2016
Wenatchee 7 @ Prince George 3 September 16th 2016
Wenatchee 11 @ Prince George 2 September 17th 2016
Prince George 1 @ Wenatchee 4 October 7th 2016
Prince George 1 @Wenatchee 8 October 8th 2016
Prince George 2 @ Wenatchee 6 January 20th 2017
Prince George 3 @ Wenatchee 5 January 21st 2017
Game 1 Saturday March 4 7:05 in Wenatchee
Game 2 Sunday March 5 5:05 in Wenatchee
Game 3 Tuesday March 7 7:00pm in Prince George
Game 4 Wednesday March 8 7:00pm in Prince George
Game 5 Friday March 10 7:00pm in Prince George If necessary
Game 6 Sunday March 12 8:05 in Wenatchee If necessary
Game 7 Monday March 13 7:05 in Wenatchee If necessary
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On the Spruce Kings roster, five players have BCHL playoff experience. Tanner Campbell had one goal and two assists in five games two years ago with the West Kelowna Warriors, while Brett Mennear and Tyler Anderson each have RBC Cup Rings from last season. Mennear has 14 points in 25 BCHL playoff games, while Anderson has six points in 24 games. Ben Brar played in all six games last season for the Penticton Vees against the West Kelowna Warriors, but didn’t record a point. It was also the post seasondebut for Connor Russell who had three assists in six games for the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
The Wenatchee Wild opened their playoffs in 2015/16 going to game five and winning over the Langley Rivermen in round one. In the second series they lost 4-1 in the series to the Chilliwack Chiefs who wound up going to the Fred Page Cup Finals. The Wild have six forwards left from that team, as well as four blueliners. Both netminders are new to the team this season.
Prince George Spruce Kings
Goals For / Against:
Goals For: 210
Goals Against: 210
Period Scoring For Breakdown
1st period: 61
2nd period: 71
3rd period: 75
Period Scoring Against Breakdown
1st period: 60
2nd period: 75
3rd period: 71
Goals For: 294
Goals Against: 135
Period Scoring For Breakdown
1st period: 88
2nd period: 116
3rd period: 88
Period Scoring Against Breakdown
1st period: 46
2nd period: 50
3rd period: 35
Prince George Spruce Kings:
Brett Mennear – In his first season with the Spruce Kings, Mennear was an absolute force. Coming off an RBC championship, the team was drawn to his leadership, and he was named team captain. He nearly doubled his offensive output from last season with 79 points compared to 42 last year. He scored his first goal as a Spruce King against the Wenatchee Wild, and had two goals in the seven games.
Tyler Anderson – Also coming off an RBC Cup run with the West Kelowna Warriors, Anderson erupted this season offensively. In 58 games last year with West Kelowna he had three goals and six assists. This year in 50 games he scored 18 goals to lead all defencemen, and had 29 assists for 47 points with PG. He was with West Kelowna at the time of the Spruce Kings homestand against the Wild, so only played four games on the road where he didn’t pickup any points.
Jarod Hovde – A slow start had him with three points in the first 12 games, but finished the season with 42 points in the final 45 games. In his second season with the team, Hovde is a player that leads by example, and may not have a letter on his chest, but is definitely a leader on and off the ice. He had one assist in the seven games against Wenatchee this year.
Chong Hyun Lee – He finished the season with Prince George last year, and was voted the CNC Fan Favourite this year. Lee missed time away with Team Korea at various international events, but still managed to rack up 36 points in 45 games. The last game he played was February 2nd. He had 15 points in the last 13 games he played dating back to December 30th.
Brendan Harris – The league leader in points this year had 98 points in 57 games, and a healthy 14 point lead on teammate Charlie Combs who finished 2nd. Harris is hands down one of the most skilled players in the league, if not the best. He’s small at 5’9 170lbs, but with his speed and hands is able to make players on the other team look foolish. He led the league in assists (75), and was second in power play assists (28) and short-handed assists (5). In seven games this year against Prince George he has three goals and 12 assists.
Charlie Combs – The trigger man for Brendan Harris, Combs was the ultimate goal scorer this year in BCHL. His 52 goals in 58 games was 13 ahead of teammate AJ Vanderbeck who was 2nd. His 21 goals were six better than 2nd place Cam Donaldson, and he also had three shorthanded goals including one against Prince George. Him and Harris will both be heading to Bemidji State next season, which will be a massive loss for the Wild. With these potent weapons, this is the year for Wenatchee to do the most damage. He had 11 goals and five assists to lead his team in points against Prince George this season.
Colin Burston – On of the playmakers to watch for on Wenatchee is Colin Burston. In the seven games he had 2 goals 7 assists. Last year with the Wild he had 16 points in 22 games, and this year he had 68 points in 56 games. In the 2015/16 playoffs he had six points in 10 games.
Troy Conzo – While the Spruce Kings held Conzo to one point in the final two games this season, he had two hat-tricks in the first five games. Committed to Colorado College next season, Conzo is another key piece to the Wild that will be moving on next year. His seven goals and six assists had him in third for points against the Spruce Kings this season.
Prince George has a pair of 1998 rookies in net. Aris Anagnostopoulos played last season for the Thompson Blazers of the BCMML, and was called up after Stefan Wornig went down for the season in mid-November. Tavin Grant played with the Kamloops Storm last year, and the year before backed up for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL.
Shots Faced: 258
Goals Allowed: 34
Save %: 0.868
Goals Against Average: 4.07
Shots Faced: 1095
Goals Allowed: 117
Save %: 0.893
Goals Against Average: 3.43
Goals Allowed: 23
The Wenatchee Wild started the season with Garrett Nieto as their starter, but in early December shipped him off, and brought in Devin Cooley. He joined in alongside Anthony Yamnitsky as the Wild duo in net. The pair had a pretty easy season in net, as Wenatchee averaged a tad more than 21 shots against per game. The second best team in the league was the Penticton Vees, and they allowed an average of 28.6. While both have sparking records, neither has a strong save percentage. The best example of this was back on October 21st against the Coquitlam Express. Anthony Yamnitsky allowed five goals on nine shots in 31:42 of playing time, and the team lost 5-4 to Coquitlam despite outshooting them 47-10.
Shots Faced: 248
Goals Allowed: 28
Save %: 0.887
Goals Against Average: 2.45
VS Prince George:
Shots Faced: 20
Goals Allowed: 18
Shots Faced: 763
Goals Allowed: 683
Save %: 0.895
Goals Against Average: 2.23
VS Prince George:
Shots Faced: 52
Goals Allowed: 5
In terms of special teams, the Spruce Kings finished in the middle pack for both categories. They were fairly strong at drawing penalties, and had the 6th most PP’s in the league with 254. An average of 4.4 man advantages per game. They were tied for 7th best in penalties taken, going down a player 238 times, and average of 4.1 times a game.
Power Play: 18.9% T-10th
@ Home: 16.7% 14th
On Road: 21.1% 4th
SHG Against: 6
Penalty Kill Overall: 80.7% 8th
@ Home: 81.1% 9th
On Road: 80.3% 7th
SHG For: 4
The Wild were one of the most disciplined teams this season, and also drew the most power plays. They went to the man-advantage a league high 293 times, averaging 5.1 per game. They were only shorthanded 207 times which was third best in the league, only four more than the 1st place Vees. The average was 3.6 penalty kills a game for the Wild. They were best in the league with shorthanded goals as well with 15, and only had one against which was also the best in the BCHL.
Power Play: 25.6% 1st
@ Home: 30.6% 1st
On Road: 19.9% 9th
SHG Against: 1
Penalty Kill Overall: 86% 1st
@ Home: 90% 1st
On Road: 82.2% 2nd
SHG For: 15
When leading / tied / trailing (ties not included)
Leading after 1: 14-3-3
Leading after 2: 18-2-2
Tied after 1: 9-6-1
Tied after 2: 5-1-1
Trailing after 1: 2-18-0
Trailing after 2: 2-24-1
Leading after 1: 30-1-2
Leading after 2: 38-0-2
Tied after 1: 10-4-0
Tied after 2: 5-0-2
Trailing after 1: 5-4-2
Trailing after 2: 2-9-0
The Prince George Spruce Kings are hoping to get some bodies back once they head home for Game 3, but will start down in Wenatchee short a few players. Tavin Grant returned to the lineup last weekend, Chong Hyun Lee returns after playing in international competition, and Tanner Campbell is also back when the team heads south. Missing are Stefan Wornig who has been out since mid-November. On the back end Connor Russell sustained an upper body injury in the second to last weekend against the Chilliwack Chiefs. Up front Ethan de Jong, and Kyle Johnson are both out with upper body injuries as well. Ethan de Jong was hurt in the CJHL Prospects Game, and Kyle Johnson was hurt last weekend against the Coquitlam Express.
Spruce Kings – They need to find a way to score. The Wild netminders don’t have great save percentages this season, but the players in front of them score enough to make up for it. Prince George needs to be opportunistic on their chances, as the Wild don’t allow many shots. Harris and Combs have run wild against the Spruce Kings this year, and while it’s tough to shut them down completely, the Spruce Kings need to limit their offence. At least one win in Wenatchee might throw the Wild for a loop, and they’ve only lost in the Town Toyota Centre twice this year. If Prince George can rattle them early, they have a chance to do some damage with potentially three straight home games.
Wenatchee – Opposite of the Spruce Kings first point, the Wild goalies need to show up in these playoffs. The Wenatchee attack is one of the best in the league, but come playoff time it’s tough to rely on just that (Look at the Atlanta Falcons this year in the Super Bowl). The other key for Wenatchee is to not underestimate the Spruce Kings. They’ve won all seven meetings this year against Prince George, but if they start looking to the next round already, they may not be playing in two weeks.