Ahac fires OT clincher for Spruce Kings
Layton Ahac is just 16 years old but possesses a shot that just one day might write his ticket to U.S. college hockey in the NCAA.
The Prince George Spruce Kings defenceman walked the line and moved into the slot after a face-off win from Patrick Cozzi and with just 17 seconds gone in overtime he rifled a wrist shot high into the top corner of the net behind goalie Jacob Berger.
It was all the Kings needed to cinch a 4-3 victory over the visiting Merritt Centennials in B.C. Hockey League action Tuesday night at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.
Ethan de Jong and Nolan Welsh, with the tying goal, scored in regulation time for Prince George.
The Cents, who took the lead early in the second period, got goals from Sam Miller and Alex Bourhas.
Trailing by a 2-1 count, the Kings came out for the third period showing a lot more desperation in their stride and had the Cents under siege with an early power play but failed to cash in. Kyle Johnson thought he had the equalizer on his stick with a shot from just outside the crease until Berger kicked out his leg to stop it.
Evan DeBrouwer did his part to keep the Kings within striking distance, coming up with his best save of the game with eight minutes left and the Cents buzzing on the power play. The 20-year-old goalie got his trapper up in time to deny Nicholas Wicks on a deflected shot that was heading for the top corner.
That set the stage for Welsh, who tied it up with his first goal of his BCHL career, tapping in a goalmouth feed from Patrick Cozzi.
Welsh, an 18-year-old Burnaby Winter Club product, went 52 games without a goal last season with the Victoria Grizzlies.
The teams traded goals in first period. De Jong collected his fourth of the season, winning a one-on-one battle with Cents defenceman Mattias Dal Monte with a slick deke cutting into the middle before chipping the puck in over the shoulder of Berger.
Miller tied it near the end of the period, 15 seconds after a penalty to Kings defenceman James Orr had expired. Miller’s wrister from the point deflected in off the leg of Kings defenceman Dylan Anhorn.
The Cents had a golden opportunity to take the lead 1:04 into the second period when Zach Court got hooked from behind by Dylan Anhorn on a partial breakaway.
He was awarded a penalty shot but was denied by a pad save from DeBrouwer.
Nineteen seconds later, Merritt won a draw in the Kings’ end and Bourhas got to his own rebound and knifed a backhander into the net for a 2-1 lead.
The Spruce Kings (7-3-1-1) remain first in the Mainland Division, three points ahead of the Langley Rivermen, who did not play Wednesday. The Cents (3-7-0-1) remain last in the Interior Division.
LOOSE PUCKS: This was the rubber match in the season series. The Spruce Kings beat the Cents 4-3 on Sept. 22 at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack. Merritt took the rematch 5-2 Oct. 1 in Merritt… The Kings will be on the road the next three weekends with eight games on the schedule the rest of October. They’ll visit Surrey in Friday and Langley on Saturday before returning home for a few days of practice before they take a tour of the Island Division for three games, Oct. 20-22… D Luc Salem made his debut with the Spruce Kings after being acquired in a future-considerations trade this week from the Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL. The 18-year-old native of Los Angeles lined up on the blueline with Chays Ruddy.
Spruce Kings goalie Evan DeBrower stops a penalty shot by Merritt’s Zach Court at the start of second period during a game at Rolling Mix Concrete on Wednesday.