Manz and Kings swamp Rivermen
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.
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.