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Johnson hat trick not enough for Spruce Kings

(Photo by MyLight Photography)

Looking to sweep a road trip for the first time since September 29 of 2013, the Spruce Kings were unable to complete the feat falling 7-3 to the Chilliwack Chiefs.

An early 2-on-1 didn’t work for Prince George, and it would come back to bite them later on. 1:20 in Ethan O’Rourke and Jarod Hovde raced down for the odd man rush, but the shot by O’Roruke was denied by Mark Sinclair.

The Spruce Kings would head to the penalty kill first, as Tyler Anderson went off for roughing. The PK came up huge for the team though, and didn’t allow Chilliwack to even setup. The Chiefs best chance came right after the BCHL media timeout when Kohen Olischefski was sprung for a breakaway, but turned aside. On the rebound, it looked as if Linden Hora had an empty net to shoot into, but Anagnostopoulos coming off his first BCHL win against the Langley Rivermen dove out with the glove to make the save.

Chilliwack would eventually break through at 15:02 with Jake Smith entering the Spruce Kings zone, and ripping a shot under the glove of Anagnostopoulos for the 1-0 lead. A lucky deflection late double the lead as Colin Bernard took a shot from the blueline, and Jarod Hovde between the circles tipped the puck into his own net.

Mark Sinclair was perfect in the first stopping all 14 shots Prince George fired on him.

The second period wasn’t pretty for the Spruce Kings as they wound up allowing five goals on 15 shots, and trailed 7-1 going to the final period of play.

Opening the scoring was Aaron O’Neill taking a feed on the doorstep and tipping the puck in on a slap pass from Justin Dixson to make it 3-0 at 3:15. Barrelling down the right side three minutes later was Cole Poliziani, and he went upstairs to make it 4-0. Ben Fanjoy made it 5-0 at 12:22 beating Anagnostopoulos under the glove.

A minute later with the Spruce Kings changing, Connor McCarthy spotted Fanjoy up at the PG blue line, and quickly passed the puck ahead. With their leading scorer driving down the middle, Fanjoy centred for Kawaguchi who scored for his 32nd goal of the season.

Prince George eventually broke through at 16:40 as Kyle Johnson had a Drew Lennon point shot go off his rear end, and drop down for Tanner Campbell. The Kelowna product’s shot was stopped, but Johnson was able to slide the puck under Sinclair ending the shutout bid on the Spruce Kings 25th shot.

Keegan Ward dropped the gloves with McCarthy and the two traded blows with 3:30 to go in the second. It was Chilliwack coming out with the momentum as seconds after puck drop a Jordan Kawaguchi shot was blocked, but bounced right to Linden Hora who potted his 8th of the season with 3:03 remaining in the frame.

Prince George won the third period, but that didn’t count for much at the end of the day. Travis Schneider had an early fight with Linden Hora, which meant both players were gone from the game. The line of Kyle Johnson, Tanner Campbell, and Ryan Stack hooked twice in the frame, with Johnson completing the hat-trick for his first in the BCHL.

Stack started things for the first goal in the third as he took a hit from a Chilliwack forward, but was able to play it ahead for Campbell. The Spruce Kings forward waited, and dropped back for Stack who came charging into the play. Stack then sent the puck to his left where Johnson was denied on the first shot, but picked up his own rebound and chipped it over Sinclair at 11:25. Johnson would complete the hat-trick five minutes later on a dandy give and go with Tanner Campbell. It was Johnson’s first hat-trick in the BCHL, and first multi-goal game against a team not named the Surrey Eagles.

Prince George collected four of six points on the weekend, and with the Surrey Eagles loss clinched a playoff spot. The team has their final regular season home game this Thursday against the West Kelowna Warriors. The game will mark the return of former Spruce Kings Braiden Epp and Cavin Tilsley.

-Prince George Spruce Kings

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