Road-weary Kings end trip with loss
After completing their longest stretch of road games in the 2017-18 B.C. Hockey League season, the Prince George Spruce Kings are relieved to be sticking close to home for most of November.
They wrapped up their second consecutive three-games-in-three-days road trip Sunday in Surrey with a 4-2 loss to the Eagles, a game in which the Kings outshot their opponents 28-24.
The Eagles scored three unanswered goals in the third period to lock away the victory. Desi Burgart started the comeback 43 seconds into the final period and Domenic Masellis and Cody Schiavon followed up with goals 16 seconds apart in the seventh minute of the period to cap the scoring.
Jeffrey Stewart had the other Surrey goal. Kyle Johnson and Ethan de Jong scored for the Spruce Kings, who led 2-1 after two periods.
Brad Cooper took the loss in net for the Kings, stopping 20 of 24 shots. Nic Tallerico improved his record to 5-1-0-0, making 26 saves.
The Eagles had the only power play of the game, in the second period, but failed to score.
Saturday night in Langley, the first-place Langley Rivermen created a bit more breathing room for themselves atop the Mainland Division standings when they beat the Spruce Kings 2-1.
Brendan Budy, late in the first period, and Angus Cruickshank, on a Rivermen power play 3:23 into the third, were the Langley goal- scorers. Johnson cut the lead in half 6:54 into the third period but that’s as close as it got for the visitors from the north.
Braedon Fleming blocked 18 of 19 shots in net for Langley. The Rivermen (9-3-6-0) fired 21 shots at Kings goalie Evan DeBrouwer.
The win moved the Rivermen three points ahead of the Spruce Kings and they went on to beat Alberni Valley 5-1 Sunday in Surrey to widen the gap to five points.
The Spruce Kings (8-7-2-3) are now just one point ahead of third-place Chilliwack and the fourth-place Eagles, who have identical 9-8-1-1 records. The Kings, who played eight straight on the road in October, began their trip Friday night in Chilliwack with a 3-0 win over the Chiefs. They host Langley in a two-game set at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena this weekend.
James Porter made 27 saves, including a penalty shot stop on Cougars centre Brogan O’Brien with 5:23 gone in the second period. O’Brien was awarded the penalty shot after getting hacked from behind while trying to score on Porter on a shorthanded breakaway. On the penalty shot, Porter kicked out his leg to poke the puck away from O’Brien.
Shots were 30-28 in favour of the Rockets.
Cougars’ goalie Taylor Gauthier, 16, made 26 saves in his last game with the Cougars before he headed out Monday to the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek/ Fort St. John to play for Team Canada White.
“I thought it was a pretty tight game,” said Cougars assistant coach Steve O’Rourke. “I felt we outplayed them in the first period and didn’t get a couple bounces.
“It’s kind of the growing pains of a young goaltender and Taylor played really well but I’m sure he’d want probably all three of those goals back. Two of them (he was) overactive with his stick and got lost there, and the third one, I don’t think he got screened. He got beat with the shot. He gave us a chance to hang in there, it’s just those growing pains you have with a 16-year-old in net and that little bit of stick play cost him.”
The Rockets (7-5-1-1, second in the B.C. Division) moved two points ahead of the Cougars (5-6-2-2, third in B.C.). There of Kelowna’s seven wins have come against the Cougars. They beat the Cats at CN Centre twice in overtime, 7-6 on Oct. 6 and 4-3 on Oct. 7.
“You break it down, three games against these guys and we probably could be undefeated and at the very worst, two wins and tie here and overtime tonight,” said O’Rourke. “We played hard but it wasn’t quite enough tonight.
— see LABARBERA, page 10