Spruce Kings tighten grip on first place in division
Dustin Manz turned the trick, naturally, and the Prince George Spruce Kings now have some breathing room on top of the B.C. Hockey League’s Mainland Division.
Manz, an 18-year-old native of Vanderbilt, Mich., scored three unanswered goals in the third period to cap off a 5-1 victory over the Chilliwack Chiefs in front of a crowd of 2,239 Sunday afternoon in Chilliwack.
The win moved the Spruce Kings (25-154-4) three points ahead of the second-place Surrey Eagles and four ahead of the thirdplace Langley Rivermen. Chilliwack (22-192-3) remained fourth in the Mainland, nine points back of the Spruce Kings, who have 58 points in 47 games.
Ben Brar and Ben Poisson, with a short- handed goal 7:43 into the first period, staked the Spruce King to an early 2-0 lead, chasing goalie Mathieu
Caron to the bench after he allowed two goals on four shots. Anthony Vincent got the Chiefs on the scoreboard with an unassisted goal 15:10 into the first period.
After a scoreless second period, Manz scored his first of the game 1:45 into the third period and made it a 4-1 game at the 7:46 mark. The Lake Superior State University recruit for 2019-20 scored his hat-trick goal into an empty net.
Goalie Evan DeBrouwer was sharp from start to finish, making 31 saves for his 20th win of the season. DeBrouwer, a native of Blenheim, Ont., now sports a 2.30 goalsagainst average, third-best in the BCHL. The Kings were outshot by the Chiefs 32-23.
Cooper shuts door on Express
Playing second fiddle on the goaltending depth chart behind DeBrouwer, 18-yearold Bradley Cooper hasn’t been getting a lot of game action as a rookie with the Spruce Kings.
If he keeps playing like he did Saturday in a 3-0 shutout win over the Coquitlam Express, Cooper is going to give head coach Adam Maglio a few sleepless nights wondering which goalie to start.
In his first game since Jan. 7, Cooper made 29 saves to earn his second BCHL shutout. That win moved the Spruce Kings back into sole possession of first place in the Mainland Division.
Brar opened the scoring 16 seconds into the second period in Coquitlam, Poisson added another tally 17:55 into the third period and Ethan de Jong sealed it with an empty-netter.
The Spruce Kings started their trip with a 4-1 loss in Langley.
The Spruce Kings, who have 11 game left in the regular season, host the Chiefs in a two-game set Friday and Saturday at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.