The Prince George Spruce Kings would strike first, but that’s all the offence they mustered up in a 2-1 OT loss to the Langley Rivermen. The game came on the backs of a 5-3 Spruce Kings win the night before that moved Prince George six points clear for third in the Mainland Division.
It took a little while for the first goal of the game to come, but it was well worth it for the Spruce Kings fans. Each team had a power play in the first, but neither would capitalize. At the 17:50 mark, picking up a puck at centre ice, de Jong went right down the middle, and fired a shot past Bo Didur for the 1-0 lead. It was de Jong’s third goal of the season, and kept him in the lead for scoring amongst players born in 1999. Langley had a late two-on-one, but were unable to capitalize as they had the night before. Ben Brar took a penalty with six seconds left in the frame, putting his team down a man heading to the second.
Each teams would exchange chances in the period, but none would find the back of the net. With Stefan Wornig out due to injury, the Langley Rivermen clipped Tavin Grant on one drive, and the Spruce Kings made sure to defend their crease. Marcus Allen from the Cariboo Cougars was called up as an emergency backup for the game. The best chance came in the dying seconds as a Langley shot from the right took a deflection out front, but Grant was up to the task. He was perfect through two periods stopped all 18 shots he faced while Didur at the other end stopped 16 of 17.
The third saw Langley eventually break through against Tavin Grant who was playing in a 10th consecutive game for the Spruce Kings. 4:11 in Ryan Barrow took a shot that caught a piece of Grant, but managed to trickle over the line tying the game at one. After the halfway mark of the third, Prince George’s top penalty killer went to the box for high sticking as Brett Mennear took a seat in the penalty box. Langley was able to control the play late into the game as they had just two shots in the last ten minutes.
Neither team would find the back of the net, which sent the two teams to overtime. Langley was looking for their second win beyond regulation in the season, while the Spruce Kings hadn’t won in overtime since the playoffs against Langley in the 2014/15 season.
Both teams had a single shot in the first overtime, but neither Didur nor Grant gave way. As the next overtime began, the two netminders skated past one another and tapped gloves together. The biggest save for Didur came as Anderson passed the puck across to an empty Brett Mennear, but the Spruce Kings captain fired a the shot side.
The eventual game winner came on a controversial goal as the Langley Rivermen were making a change. One player was offside while the man taking his place grabbed the puck and race in. Tavin Grant came out of his net to play the puck, but met sticks with Zac Masson. Masson would knock the puck past Grant, and was able to slide the puck into the net for the 2-1 decision to move Langley within five points of Prince George for third in the division.
Friday concluded an eight game home stand for the Spruce Kings, and they will head South for a trio of games before the Christmas break. They will be taking on the Coquitlam Express to start, and follow that up with games on the Island against the Cowichan Valley Capitals and Victoria Grizzlies. After Christmas they will be back in the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena for another double header against the Rivermen with games on the 29th and 30th.
– Prince George Spruce Kings