Fam­ily ties

Don­ald­son re­joins hockey brethren with Spruce Kings

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

Sean Don­ald­son says he could not have asked for a bet­ter B.C. Hockey League team to get traded to, and the feel­ing is mu­tual. The Prince Ge­orge Spruce Kings are glad to have him.

Picked up two weeks ago in a deal that sent 18-year-old winger Lane Sni­her and fu­ture con­sid­er­a­tions to the Trail Smoke Eaters, Don­ald­son joined his new team­mates on the road in Lan­g­ley, not far from his Van­cou­ver home.

For Don­ald­son, a 17-year-old right winger, it was like re­join­ing his hockey fam­ily. He’s the eighth Burn­aby Win­ter Club alumni to play for the Spruce Kings this sea­son.

“That makes it a lot eas­ier when you come to a new team and you’re al­ready best friends with five or six of the guys,” said Don­ald­son. “I played with Nick Pois­son, Tyler Sch­leppe and Nick Bochen last year and I know Ben Pois­son, Liam Wat­son-Brawn and Bradley Cooper (as well as Nolan Welsh). They’re all from BWC. It’s a great place to de­velop and it’s great that a bunch of us ended up here.”

Don­ald­son comes highly touted, hav­ing al­ready locked up an NCAA schol­ar­ship with the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut in 2020. He earned a rep­u­ta­tion as a goal-scorer in his two sea­sons with the BWC. Last year with the Prep team he scored 36 times and had 30 as­sists for 66 points in 34 games. The year be­fore that on the BWC Elite 15s he turned in a 20-goal, 37-point sea­son.

“He has a real good knack for the net and that’s what we need, we need guys who can step up of­fen­sively and he cer­tainly has that nose to go to areas where the puck goes,” said Spruce Kings head coach Adam Maglio. “I think has a good level of com­pete, too, and when he’s pushed he takes his game to the next level, so we’ve been happy with him and it will be nice to have him back Sat­ur­day.”

The 17-year-old Don­ald­son played two games in his first week as a Spruce King and spent the fol­low­ing week prac­tic­ing, then got back on the road for an In­te­rior Divi­sion tour that started in Trail. He scored against his old team in a 5-2 win and col­lected his sec­ond goal as a Spruce King the fol­low­ing night in a 4-1 win in We­natchee, but drew a four-game sus­pen­sion in that game for high hit into the boards on Wild de­fence­man Chad Sasaki and hasn’t played since.

Don­ald­son will serve out his sen­tence when he sits out tonight’s game at Rolling Mix Con­crete against the Lan­g­ley River­men. He’ll draw back into the lineup for the re­match against the River­men on Sat­ur­day.

“I think it was a good start for me and I want to keep build­ing off that, it all starts in the de­fen­sive zone for me,” said Don­ald­son. “I bring en­ergy and com­pete to my game and I’m a lit­tle on the of­fen­sive side but I play a 200-foot game.”

He had a goal and four as­sists and 14 penalty min­utes in 13 games with the Smoke Eaters be­fore he re­quested the trade.

“It just wasn’t the place for me, I kind of felt out of place there so I asked for a trade and we went home for a cou­ple days and I couldn’t be hap­pier here,” he said. “I think we have a group here that’s go­ing to go re­ally deep (in the play­offs), it’s great to win games.”

The Spruce Kings have done that of­ten this sea­son, com­pil­ing a 14-6-0-1 record which leaves them five points be­hind the first-over­all Chilli­wack Chiefs (177-0-0), hav­ing played three fewer games than the Main­land Divi­sion lead­ers.

Don­ald­son says his sus­pen­sion served as a re­minder what not to do on the ice in the heat of the mo­ment.

“I was just go­ing in hard and fin­ished my check on the num­bers and I learned from it,” he said. “They’re pretty tight on check­ing from be­hind so that’s four games. It’s been tough but there’s al­ways some pos­i­tives from that.

“The coaches said to me I can al­ways work on stuff while they’re play­ing and get in bet­ter shape with ex­tra work­outs and you can watch the game and learn. You can sit here and dread on it for two weeks or get bet­ter. I’ll be ready for Sat­ur­day.”

The Spruce Kings beat the River­men 2-1 on Oct. 20 in Lan­g­ley, the last time the teams met. Prince Ge­orge also scored a 4-3 win in Lan­g­ley on Sept. 29.

“They work hard, they’re a hard forecheck­ing team and they fin­ish their hits,” said Maglio. “You have to be on your toes, they try and cre­ate turnovers on the forecheck and cap­i­tal­ize on that. They’ve strug­gled a bit of­fen­sively but they have real good goal­tend­ing, (Brae­don) Flem­ing’s been re­ally good for them. You have to get bod­ies in front of him and find loose pucks, he’s been good against us for two years now.”

The Kings have had to ad­just their lineup slightly with winger Corey Cun­ning­ham out with a con­cus­sion he sus­tained last Sat­ur­day in the game against Pen­tic­ton. The Kings learned winger Spencer Chap­man will need hip surgery and is out for the sea­son. De­fence­man Bren­nan Mal­gu­nas – out since the start of the sea­son with an undis­closed ill­ness – has been prac­tic­ing with the Kings.

DON­ALD­SON

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