Spruce Kings fend off Cents’ powerplay for victory

Chong Lee drives the net, Photo by: Lee Greg

Heading in, the key to the game was shutting down the Merritt power play ranked second in the league at 26.5 per cent, and Prince George did just that denying all four opportunities the Centennials had.

After being down 3-0 after one in the first two games, Prince George was able to shut the Centennials down to begin the game. Brett Mennear had the best opportunity for PG in the opening frame at 8:04, as a puck from the right wall bounced out to him all alone in the slot, but his shot was denied by Colten Lancaster.

Moments later a quick tic-tac-toe play finished by a Tyler Ward one timer from the bottom of the left circle was stopped by Tavin Grant. Each team would earn a power play before the period expired, but neither could capitalize. Merritt had the best chance up a man with two seconds to go as Stephan Seeger came down the left wing, and his wrister bounced off the glove of Tavin Grant going wide of the net. Each team had 10 shots after the first.

Prince George would earn an early power play in the second, and were able to finally put a puck in the net. After a number of good opportunities, Brett Mennear stepped into a shot that was tipped in front by Ben Brar for his 13th of the season at 4:19. The power play was created by a nice offensive play by Keegan Ward as he dropped a pass through his legs for Parker Colley who got a shot off, but drew another penalty.

Merritt nearly evened the score 13:05 in, as Brett Jewell was stopped in close, and then nearly had a breakaway, but it was called back as being offside. That could have proved costly as the Spruce Kings drew a pair of penalties, and had 35 seconds of five-one-three to work with. They couldn’t score on either, and Nick Fidanza who took the second penalty shortly after coming out of the box was able to knock in a shot from in front of the net tying the game 1-1 with 1:10 left on the clock. After two the shots were again tied, with both netminders facing 22 shots on goal.

The third period saw Prince George score, and then a heavy push by the Cents. Chong Lee took advantage of a fortunate bounce off the back wall that he jammed in past Lancaster for the 2-1 lead at 6:34. The Centennials would earn the next two power plays, but the league’s number two team couldn’t stop Tavin Grant who was perfect in the third stopping all 15 shots he faced. Prince George had a man-advantage of their own with three minutes to go, and did a good job to kill the clock, but were unable to add the all important insurance marker. As the penalty ended PG spent another good 40 seconds in the Merritt zone before they were finally able to break out. With Lancaster just getting to the bench as well, Ben Brar stole the puck at centre, and lifted the puck into the empty cage for his second goal of the game, and third point of the night. With the clock reading 0:11:4, there was no time for the home side to make a comeback.

Nick Fidanza was named the third star of the game for his goal on home ice. Tavin Grant making 36 saves for the win was second, and Ben Brar with a pair of goals and one assist was the first.

-Prince George Spruce Kings

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