Manz the man for Spruce Kings

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Ted CLARKE Cit­i­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

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.

Dustin Manz

CIT­I­ZEN PHOTO BY JAMES DOYLE

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.

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