Spruce Kings now 3-0 to start sea­son

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

Ben Brar brought some TNT to the rink with him Fri­day night.

In fact, he might have rubbed a few drops of ni­tro glyc­er­ine into that hockey stick of his.

What­ever Brar had work­ing for him, it had a dy­na­mite ef­fect on the Co­quit­lam Ex­press. He was dan­ger­ous all night and with two timely goals blew away all hope the Ex­press had of leav­ing Rolling Mix Con­crete Arena with a win at the ex­pense of his Prince George Spruce Kings.

They beat the Ex­press 5-3 to im­prove their B.C. Hockey League record to a per­fect 3-0-0-0 in front of 731 spec­ta­tors.

Brar al­ready had five qual­ity shots on goal when he fi­nally buried his sixth, just 14 sec­onds into the third pe­riod. Sprung into the clear by de­fence­man Liam Wat­son-Brawn, Brar took aim from the face-off cir­cle and ri­fled a low shot that went off the glove and through the legs of goalie Clay Steven­son. That put the Kings ahead 3-2 but their first lead of the night didn’t last long.

Cooper Con­nell took the puck off the side boards at the blue­line, skated deep into the Prince George zone and slid in a back­han­der along the ice as he cut through the crease.

But with less than four min­utes to play, Patrick Cozzi fired the game-winer. He cra­dled the puck on his stick on a feed from Dy­lan An­horn and waited for Steven­son to dip his shoul­der be­fore he let go a wrist shot from 30 feet out.

Brar capped the scor­ing with his third of the sea­son, an empty-net­ter off a well-timed dive to chip the puck off the stick of Pito Wal­ton.

“I had a lot of chances but my team­mates made it easy for me out there,” said Brar. “Our d-men re­ally stepped up and made it easy for our for­wards.

“We kind of fell asleep in the game there (in the sec­ond pe­riod) but it was nice to pull out the ‘W.’ We just have to learn how to play the full 60 min­utes but that will come as the year goes on. Co­quit­lam has turned their team around pretty well and it was a tight game all night.”

The Kings got great pro­duc­tion from their de­fence­men – An­horn, with a goal and two as­sists, and Wat­son-Brawn, who con­trib­uted two as­sists. Corey Cun­ning­ham had the other Spruce Kings goal. Chris­tian Sanda, Re­gan Ki­mens and Con­nell scored for Co­quit­lam (1-2-0-0).

Af­ter a score­less first pe­riod the teams each struck twice in the mid­dle frame.

Out­shot 14-4 in the first pe­riod, Co­quit­lam con­nected for the game’s open­ing goal five min­utes into the pe­riod. Sanda took a cross-ice feed from line­mate Joshua Bruce and lifted a hard back­han­der into the far side of the net.

Ki­mens dou­bled the lead on an Ex­press power play, cruis­ing in from his point po­si­tion to fire a wris­ter that went in over the glove of goalie Lo­gan Neaton, who drew his third con­sec­u­tive start in goal for the Kings.

Down 2-0, the Prince George power went to work late in the sec­ond pe­riod and just eight sec­onds into Chase Danol’s trip­ping penalty, af­ter a face-off win by Nolan Welsh, the puck came back to the left point for An­horn and the 19-year-old de­fence­man un­leashed a slap shot that sailed in be­hind Steven­son.

Two min­utes later, a pair of P.G. boys com­bined to score the equal­izer. Craig Mac­Don­ald chipped the puck away from Ex­press for­ward Dal­las Far­rell, send­ing Cun­ning­ham in alone and his wrist shot caught a piece of Steven­son’s glove be­fore it ended up in the net.

“Ob­vi­ously the first goal for me to start the third wasn’t the best one, I’d kind of like to have that one back,” said Steven­son. “But over­all I thought the guys bat­tled hard. We could have shown a bit more grit to kind of hold it off and seal it up but…”

Steven­son, a Dart­mouth Col­lege re­cruit, was with the Ex­press last sea­son and suf­fered through a 10-win last-over­all sea­son. It’s a much dif­fer­ent team in front of him now.

“At the be­gin­ning of the sea­son we started re­ally gelling as a group more and it’s pretty ex­cit­ing to see what we can ac­com­plish this sea­son and what we have to look for­ward to,” he said. “I feel our group has a lot of po­ten­tial. We knew (the Spruce Kings) were a strong team com­ing in and we knew we had to bat­tle hard and we showed what we can do in the first half of the game but we kind of let off the gas in the sec­ond half and they cap­i­tal­ized on it.”

Wat­son-Brawn also drew an as­sist on An­horn’s goal and played a solid game in his own end. The 18-year-old Col­gate Univer­sity re­cruit showed great hus­tle get­ting back in time to knock the puck away from Far­rell on a par­tial break­away af­ter An­horn over­skated the puck with the game still tied 2-2.

Fri­day’s 2-0 deficit was the first time in the three games this sea­son the Kings have had to mount a come­back.

“We didn’t have the best sec­ond pe­riod but I like how we bounced back and came up with the win,” said Wat­son-Brawn. “All credit to Co­quit­lam, they played a great game, but we just have to come out harder (Satur­day).”

The same teams meet again tonight (7 p.m.) at RMCA.


Prince George Spruce Kings for­ward Ben Pois­son tries to go to the out­side on Co­quit­lam Ex­press de­fence­man Pito Wal­ton on Fri­day night at Rolling Mix Con­crete Arena in the first game of a week­end BCHL dou­ble­header.

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