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Spruce Kings mauled by Grizzlies

The Prince George Spruce Kings outshot the Victoria Grizzlies 46-35, and had seven power plays to the home team’s two, but it was the visitors falling 6-2 on the road to cap their final roadtrip before the Christmas break.

It was not a good start for the Prince George Spruce Kings as they were outshot 7-1 in the first five minutes, but would respond to outshoot the Grizzlies 19-13 in the period. Victoria scored the first goal as just over two minutes in on a rush Marty Westhaver beat Tavin Grant for the 1-0 lead. Prince George would reply after the BCHL media timeout, as Travis Schneider tied the game at one. Coming down on a two-on-one with Brett Mennear, Schneider saw some room to shoot, and made no mistake beating Tony Rehm making the start in place of Matthew Galajda who went home to Toronto following his time with Team Canada West in the World Junior A Challenge. Schneider nearly gave Prince George the lead his next shift as Mennear saucered a pass across the ice, but Rehm was able to grab the shot that was batted out of mid-air. Rehm came up big again later in the frame as he kicked out a juicy rebound on a Mennear shot, and Hovde was there to knock at the puck, but the netminder was up to the task.

Victoria would retake the lead at 16:56 when Jamie Rome took a cross ice feed from Cam Thompson, and beat Grant for the 2-1 score. The Grizzlies would strike again with 14 seconds to go in the period as Cole Pickup who had been honoured before the game for playing in his 200th career BCHL game jammed in a puck. A centring feed rebounded out front, and the Spruce Kings defense were unable to contain the Grizzlies leading scorer who picked up his 16th goal of the season, and team leading 45th point.

The second was the Tony Rehm show. Brett Mennear took an early penalty, but out of the box he setup Hunter Luhmann who was stopped out front. That was followed up by a Cole Pickup breakaway who was looking to repeat the goal he scored two weeks ago in Prince George. He went five hole for that goal, but tried to pick the top right corner this time around missing the net. Finally earning a power play, Prince George went to work against the second ranked team in the BCHL. It took a while, but Brett Mennear won a draw back, and Ben Poisson was able to walk up and pick the top right corner for the 3-2 score 12:48 in. Three minutes after that Tavin Grant made his biggest saves of the frame as he stopped a Jake Stevens shot, and followed that up by diving across to deny Pickup on the doorstep. That would prove vital for Prince George who drew penalties 25 seconds a part to head to a lengthy 5-on-3 power play. This time the PK unit came up big for Victoria as the best opportunity was a wrist shot from Tyler Anderson that Rehm picked out of the air. In the dying seconds, Brett Mennear shot on a 2-on-1 but was denied again by the glove of Rehm.

The power play got plenty of opportunities in the third as Prince George had four man advantages but couldn’t solve the Grizzlies penalty kill unit. That included an early four minute power play for Prince George after Trent Huitema was bleeding following a high stick. The Spruce Kings wouldn’t capitalize on the opportunity, and Victoria burned them shortly after as Jamie Rome passed a puck across for Cam Thompson to tap into net 7:20 in. Four minutes later it was Rome striking again as he picked up his second goal of the game on a pass from Lucas Clark. He would round out the hat-trick on the power play late in the game after a Brett Stirling rebound popped out to him.

Tavin Grant allowed the six goals on 35 shots, while Tony Rehm was stellar filling in for Matthew Galajda stopping all but two of the 46 shots he faced. Rehm was named the second star of the game, while Pickup was third for his goal and assist. With a hat-trick and assist Jamie Rome was the no brainer for first star.

Prince George now sits one point behind Langley for third in the Mainland with one game in hand. The two will faceoff in the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena right after the Christmas break with games on the 29th and 30th.

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