Game Time: Friday December 16th @ 7pm
To say the Coquitlam Express are struggling would be putting it lightly.
The team has yet to win a game in their last 18 games, and their best result was a 3-3 tie with the Spruce Kings…back in October. The team has been ravaged with injuries, and a slew of AP’s have been doing their best to fill the role. The first three games of the seasons between the season were relatively close with PG outscoring Coquitlam 15-10 and taking away two wins and a tie. The last meeting was a gong show though as Coquitlam was playing short a few forwards, and a number of AP’s were taking the places of injured vets. The Spruce Kings fired 50 shots on net, and won 8-0. Jarod Hovde had two goals and two assists, Parker Colley scored twice, and Brett Mennear had his first career hat-trick.
This will be the first road game for Prince George in over a month with the last game also being played in Coquitlam, that was back on November 11th. Only 8 of the Spruce Kings 31 games this season have been played away from the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena. They have a 3-4-1-0 record on the road, and against Mainland teams are 1-2-1-0 with both regulation wins coming at the hands of the Wenatchee Wild who defeated Coquitlam 12-0 last week.
The Spruce Kings don’t expect to have Kyle Johnson back this weekend as he is playing for Team Canada West in the World Junior A Challenge. Chong Hyun Lee is also on international duty playing for Korea in the Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Poland. Stefan Wornig and Tanner Campbell are both still out with injuries. To fill the roster, Prince George has called up a trio of players. Chong Hyun Lee’s younger brother Chong Min Lee is getting the nod after putting up five points in eight games with the Port Moody Panthers of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. Newly committed Ryan Stack from the Burnaby Winter Club will play for the Spruce King again as he played two games for the Spruce Kings in mid-November. Stack sits 2nd in Prep scoring with 32 points in 20 games played. From the PJHL leading Aldergrove Kodiaks, goaltender Dawson Rodin will be backing up Tavin Grant for the weekend. Rodin will have one familiar face on the bench as he was an AP for Powell River when Chad van Diemen was an associate coach there. With a record of 14-5 this season, Rodin also has a career best 2.71 GAA.
Brett Mennear is one goal away from 50 in his career.
After picking up three of a poissble four points against the Langley Rivermen last weekend, the Spruce Kings were five points ahead of Langley fir third, but a Rivermen win Sunday against the Coquitlam Express moved them to within three points. A Tuesday victory over the Merritt Centennials put them right on the heels of the Spruce Kings as they are now one point behind. Prince George does have two games in hand, and will be battling a team Friday that has been struggling not having won in their last 18 games. With 24 games left in the season, Coquitlam is 18 points out of a spot in the Mainland, and 16 from a possible wildcard over to the 6th spot in the Interior Division.
Prince George is comfortably sitting in a playoff spot for now having a eight point lead over Surrey who sits in 5th. The Eagles have also played four more games than the Spruce Kings.
WHO TO WATCH
Ryan Stack – FWD: The forward from the Burnaby Winter Club didn’t hit the score sheet when he was last called up, but created a number of opporunities for teammates with his superb vision. After playing in Prince George during mid-November for a pair of games, Stack went home and committed to the team shortly after for next season. This will be his first game in a Spruce Kings sweater since committing to the team.
Parker Colley – FWD: All three of Colley’s points last weekend came in the 5-3 win over the Rivermen on Thursday. The team needed some secondary scoring with Kyle Johnson away from injury, and Jamie Huber requesting a trade back East. Last time Prince George was in Coquitlam, Colley scored a goal on a breakaway after stepping out of the penalty box.
Noah Turanski – DEF: The big man on the back end isn’t going to blow teams away with his stats, but his 6’4 and 240 lbs frame just might. He only has one assist in 32 games this season for Coquitlam, but it came in the only game these two teams played which in Coquitlam.
Luca Leone – FWD: Missing from the last game against Prince George, the Express will be happy having Leone back in the lineup. His season high three game point streak was ended in the team’s last loss at the hands of the Langley Rivermen. This season against Prince George Leone has four assists in three games played.
Spruce Kings @ Cowichan Valley Capitals – Saturday December 17th, 7pm – Island Savings Centre
Spruce Kings @ Victoria Grizzlies – Friday December 18th, 7pm – The Q Centre
NEXT HOME GAME: Spruce Kings vs Langley Rivermen – Thursday December 29th, 7pm – Rolling Mix Concrete Arena