Manz the man for Spruce Kings
Dustin Manz scored three but should have had four. His own generosity was all that prevented it. It didn’t really matter in the end that Manz elected to pass to his good buddy Ben Brar while facing an empty Nanaimo Clipper net in the dying seconds Friday night at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.
By that time he already had his second hat trick of the season and his team had the game in the bag – a 5-3 win that was a bit too close for comfort for the leagueleading Kings in front of a crowd of 1,024 at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.
Manz completed a perfect trifecta. He scored at even strength, on the power play and, with time running out, went the length of the rink to ice it with a shorthanded goal. He also drew an assist to complete a four-point night.
“It just felt like things were clicking tonight, our line was playing really good, both Brar and (Patrick Cozzi) were helping me out and out power play was doing well too so that played a lot into it,” said Manz.
“We made a couple mistakes, we were missing guys so you have to be a little more disciplined with the puck, but we battled through and found a way to win, which is all that matters. We’re kind of getting rewarded for our hard work and we’re first in the league, which is a huge accomplishment.”
The Kings took a 2-1 lead into the third period and went to their most likely source to add to the count. Brar took a pass from Cozzi and toe-dragged the puck to change the shooting angle just enough to fool goalie Jordan Naylor with his hard low shot. For Brar, a 20-year-old coveted by several NCAA teams, it was his team-leading 22nd goal this season. Brar finished with a goal and two assists and Cozzi ended up with four assists.
The Clippers answered Brar’s goal a few minutes later on the power play. Daniel Gatenby, a three-year WHL veteran in his final season of junior hockey, made it a 3-2 count with a low shot from the point that Kings goalie Keenan Rancier did not see coming through a screen of bodies in front of him. But the Clippers took a penalty shortly after that and Kings captain Ben Poisson made them pay, scoring what turned out the game-winner with a hard wrister with four minutes left.
The win left the Spruce Kings (23-8-1-2) with the best record in the BCHL as they moved three points ahead of the idle secondoverall Chilliwack Chiefs. Nanaimo (12-17-0-0) remained third in the Island Division.
Rancier picked up his second BCHL career victory, drawing his first game action in goal for the Spruce Kings.
Rancier, a former Victoria Grizzly, joined the Spruce Kings last week from the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers to replace Bradley Cooper, who was traded to Vernon.
The 18-year-old Rancier didn’t get much work in the first period, facing just four shots, but one of them, a shorthanded breakaway shot from University of Connecticut recruit Thomas Samuelsen, beat him through the legs to give the Clippers the early lead.
Samuelsen chipped the puck forward and took off on the left side facing defenceman Nick Bochen, who fell as Samuelsen went around him at the Kings blueline, setting up the breakaway. The Kings outshot the Clippers 11-4 in the period.
The Spruce Kings got that one back 3:57 into the second period, cashing n their first power play of the game. Manz got his stick on a low snapshot fired through the slot from Brar. Those two connected again at even strength and Manz was the man in front with another tipped-in goal for a 2-1 Kings’ lead 8:54 into the second.
The Clippers found their skating legs in the second period and had their chances while generating nine shots.
The Kings and their quick feet drew back-to-back penalties a minute apart near the end of the period but failed to score on the 5-on-3 opportunity.
LOOSE PUCKS: It was Citizen Night at the RMCA and the Citizen distributed 200 tickets to its newspaper carriers for a free night at the rink…. The Spruce Kings wrap up their seven-game home-stand next weekend against the Surrey Eagles, then take to the road for games Dec. 20-21, their last of the 2018 calendar year.
We’re kind of getting rewarded for our hard work and we’re first in the league, which is a huge accomplishment.
Prince George Spruce Kings forward Chong Min Lee tries a wraparound on Nanaimo Clippers goaltender Jordan Naylor while being chased by Kyler Kovich on Friday night at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.