Manz and Kings swamp River­men

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

On drum night at the old Coli­seum, now known as Rolling Mix Con­crete Arena, Prince Ge­orge Spruce Kings cen­tre Dustin Manz needed just one stick to de­liver an im­pres­sive solo.

He pounded the Lan­g­ley River­men into sub­mis­sion, col­lect­ing three goals and an as­sist in an 8-1 blowout.

Manz’s line­mate Patrick Cozzi also had a big night with two goals and three as­sists and rookie Ni­cholas Pois­son had the first two-goal game of his BCHL ca­reer. Tyler Sch­leppe also scored for the Kings (15-6-0-1), who won their third straight to im­prove to 9-3 on home ice this sea­son.

“We’ve been work­ing on our scor­ing around the net lately and we know we needed to score a lot more, we’ve had a lot of close games lately and I think it all came to­gether to­day,” said Manz.

“Me and Cozzi and (Ben) Brar have been work­ing well lately. We’re find­ing each other all over the ice and it’s work­ing well for us. We re­ally needed that one to jump up in the stand­ings and try to catch Chilli­wack, so it’s nice.”

Jake Liv­ing­stone was the only Lan­g­ley shooter to beat Lo­gan Neaton, who made 22 saves for his 12th vic­tory. The River­men (9-11-1-0) re­mained fourth in the Main­land Divi­sion, 12 points be­hind the sec­ond-place Spruce Kings.

Manz gave a sea­son-high home crowd of 1,137 its first rea­son to cel­e­brate, one minute into the sec­ond pe­riod when the Kings cashed in their sec­ond power play of the game. The 19-year-old from Van­der­bilt, Mich., tipped in Brar’s shot from the point af­ter Manz won the draw in the Lan­g­ley end.

Cozzi col­lected his fifth of the sea­son at even strength two min­utes later, scor­ing on a blis­ter­ing snap shot that sailed high over the glove of goalie Brae­don Flem­ing.

The River­men got on the board on their first power play, nine min­utes into the sec­ond when Liv­ing­stone snuck a point shot through the block at­tempt of de­fence­man Max Coyle, catch­ing a sliver of net just in­side the post be­hind Neaton.

The Kings had an an­swer for that, two min­utes later – a mile­stone mo­ment for Sch­leppe. He was set up in front for his first ca­reer BCHL goal thanks to some slick moves by line­mate Michael Con­lin. Con­lin car­ried the puck in deep and af­ter putting it through the legs to get by a Lan­g­ley de­fender he threaded a gift-pass in front for Sch­leppe who filed it away.

It was also a night to re­mem­ber for Sch­leppe, who had his par­ents from Van­cou­ver, Ben and Janet, and 14-year-old sis­ter Ja­dyn in the crowd to wit­ness his first goal, which came two days be­fore his 17th birth­day.

“Con­lin was re­ally hard on the forecheck, he out­worked about four guys and made a great pass un­der a guy’s stick right on my tape, so I should’ve buried it,” said Sch­leppe. “It was a re­ally big game and we got the two points and hope­fully (to­day) we’ll get an­other two points.”

Manz made it a 4-1 count be­fore the sec­ond pe­riod ended, prompt­ing Lan­g­ley coach Bobby Hen­der­son to bring Alex Rolfe in to re­place Flem­ing.

In the third pe­riod, Manz com­pleted his sec­ond BCHL hat trick with his 10th goal this sea­son with a wrap­around shot that ticked in off Rolfe’s skate. Pois­son kept up the on­slaught, sand­wich­ing his two goals around Cozzi’s sec­ond goal of the game.

“I’m at a loss for an an­swer and I’m sure the play­ers feel the same way,” said Hen­der­son. “I guess we’ll mar­i­nate in it tonight and the sun will come up to­mor­row. It’s dis­ap­point­ing for sure and if noth­ing else I feel bad for the fans. I feel they got robbed of their ticket value tonight.”

In a score­less, fast-paced open­ing pe­riod the River­men weath­ered a cy­clone of Spruce King ac­tiv­ity and came out of it un­scathed. For much of the open­ing 10 min­utes the Kings owned the puck, keep­ing the vis­i­tors pinned in their own zone chas­ing the play. They kept Flem­ing on his toes but could only muster a cou­ple of dan­ger­ous scor­ing chances.

The River­men found their sea legs in the sec­ond half of the pe­riod and erased a 6-1 shot deficit to lead the rub­ber-bis­cuit bar­rage 8-7 at the buzzer. Their eighth of the game was a se­vere test of Neaton’s re­flexes, but he got his glove in the way of Da­neel Late­gan’s close-range one-timer.

Lan­g­ley’s two pre­vi­ous meet­ings this sea­son with the Kings were close, both end­ing in one-goal wins for Prince Ge­orge.

“We’re kind of in a slump right now and we’re fight­ing the puck quite a bit, and we’re on our own page,” said River­men de­fence­man Alec Cap­stick. “There’s not a lot to say af­ter that one. They’re a good team, they’re fast, they’re hard and they play well, credit to them. It’s a quick turn­around to­mor­row and we’ll all get a good rest and come back fly­ing.”

LOOSE PUCKS: The re­match starts tonight at 7… The Kings re­mained five points back of the first-over­all Chilli­wack Chiefs. Prince Ge­orge has three games in hand over the Chiefs… Kings winger Corey Cun­ning­ham re­mains side­lined with a con­cus­sion af­ter he got hit by a shot in last week’s 3-2 win over Pen­tic­ton.

CI­TI­ZEN PHOTO BY JAMES DOYLE

Prince Ge­orge Spruce Kings for­ward Craig Mac­Don­ald pro­tects the puck while get­ting past Lan­g­ley River­men de­fender Brian Scov­ille on Fri­day night at Rolling Mix Con­crete Arena.

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