(Photo by: MyLight Photography)
What looked to be a potential comeback for the BCHL record books fell short for the Prince George Spruce Kings.
Leading 3-1 in the third period, the Prince George Spruce Kings allowed a goal eight minutes in, and two goals in the final minute to lose 4-3 to the Wenatchee Wild in Game 6 of the Mainland semi-finals.
The Wild had lost to Prince George once in the previous 16 games heading into Game 4, and then dropped two on a row against the Spruce Kings.
Back in the comforts of the Town Toyota Center, the home side got off to a good start applying pressure in the Spruce Kings zone. Prince George would eventually break out though, and they made their first opportunity count.
Ethan de Jong chipped a puck behind the goal, and racing after it along with Chong Min Lee, the pair were able to move it out in the slot for Ben Poisson. All alone in front of the goal, Poisson made no mistake scoring on the team’s first shot of the game.
Prince George went to the power play past the halfway mark of the first, but it was the Wild who would score. Dakota Raabe was able to grab a puck in the neutral zone, and on a two-on-one shot the puck past Tavin Grant tying the game 1-1 with 6:37 left.
In the second the Spruce Kings were outshot 10-6, but headed to the third leading 3-1. They would get the scoring started shortly before the media timeout, as Kyle Johnson worked the puck out from the right corner. Dragging the puck to the net his original shot was stopped, but he picked up the rebound, and potted it past Anthony Yamnitsky making it 2-1 at 8:29.
After an icing, Chong Hyun Lee would score his first of the playoffs at 13:59 picking up a Tyler Anderson rebound, and shooting it beyond the reach of a sliding Yamnitsky. This came four minutes after a Jimmy O’Brien goal was called off after the whistle had gone. It was the same call that slowed a Spruce Kings comeback attempt in Game 1, with Chong Hyun Lee having his goal called off.
In the third was when things started to fall off for the visiting Spruce Kings looking to push the series to a Game 7. At 6:52 the team took a too many men penalty, as Matt Baker made a tremendous individual effort to burst past the defence, and score to get Wenatchee within one with the score at 3-2. Pulling their goalie with over a minute to go hadn’t worked the previous two times for the Wild with Prince George scoring into it, but third time was the charm down in Wenatchee. The puck was worked to Chris Jones at the point, and the defenceman in his fourth season with the Wild scored to tie the game with a minute to go.
Things looked destined for overtime, but the Wild had other ideas late in the game. AJ Vanderbeck took a shot from the right side, and the rebound popped out to Baker who was able to tap in his second of the game with 6.5 seconds on the clock.
Prince George took their turn at pulling the goalie, but there wasn’t enough time for a comeback. The win for Wenatchee gave them a 4-2 series win in the Mainland semi-finals. They now move onto the division finals to face the Chilliwack Chiefs who were their opponents last season as well.
A big thank you to all the Spruce Kings fan for the support this season. The team is excited to come back next season and aim for an even longer run.