Ahac fires OT clincher for Spruce Kings

The Prince George Citizen - - SPORTS - Ted CLARKE Ci­ti­zen staff tclarke@pgc­i­t­i­zen.ca

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.

SPE­CIAL TO THE CI­TI­ZEN PHOTO BY VICKI BROWN

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.

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