On the brink of elimination, the Spruce Kings were able to keep their season alive with a 7-4 win over the Wenatchee Wild. To put it in perspective, Prince George scored seven goals in 60 minutes on Wednesday, and had scored eight goals in the previous five games combined. In fact, Prince George scored three goals in a span of 7:42 in the first period, after three goals in the previous 185:43 of playoff hockey against Wenatchee.
An early power play helped the Spruce Kings, and they got an added boost when the Wild were called for too many men. That gave PG 1:08 of 5-on-3 hockey, and they would not disappoint. Brett Mennear worked the puck back to Tyler Anderson, and his blast from the point gave Prince George their first lead of the series at 5:44.
The lead would be doubled less than four minutes later as Ethan de Jong passed the puck into the middle for Ben Poisson, and on a partial breakaway was able to snap home his first BCHL goal 9:07 in. Bryan Allbee’s shot from the top of the right circle trickled past Anthony Yamnitsky at 13:26, and that would be the end of the night for the Wild netminder after allowing three goals on nine shots.
In the second, Prince George would quickly make it a 4-0 lead as Tanner Campbell worked a puck out in front of the goal, and Kyle Johnson was there to tuck in his second goal in as many games.
On their first power play of the game, the Wild were able to break Tavin Grant’s shutout bid as Alex Bates took a pass at the top of the right circle, and went bar down to get Wenatchee within three.
Ethan de Jong had the home side going to the intermission cheering as he broke down the left wing, and after gaining a step on the defenseman was able to beat Devin Cooley making it 5-1 with 1:13 to go in the period.
Kyle Johnson struck for the second time early in the third, with his line of Campbell and Hovde again causing havoc in the Wild end. The goal was Johnson’s third of the playoffs, giving him a trio in just two games played. The former Vancouver NE Chief of the BCMML had 15 points in 6 games when his team won the league two seasons ago.
With Prince George leading 6-1 in front of an ecstatic Rolling Mix Concrete Arena crowd, the Wild would make them sweat within eight minutes. First it was a power play goal by Matthew Baker (his third PPG of the playoffs) to make it 6-2. Then it was Dakota Raabe’s turn beating Grant to cut the deficit in half. Finally an AJ Vanderbeck shot found twine, and it was a 6-4 hockey game with 9:38 to play.
Slava Demin took a penalty with a little under five minutes to go, and the Spruce Kings were unable to score, but the time helped to kill off the clock. The Wild would pull their goal with nearly three minutes remaining, but the Spruce Kings empty net specialist was up the task once again. With four goals into empty nets during the season, Ben Brar made it five as he picked up a puck at his own blue line, and flung it down the ice just squeaking inside the right post.
The victory gave Prince George their first win against the Wenatchee Wild since October 30th of 2015. It was the second time the Spruce Kings have beaten them since they joined the BCHL. Tavin Grant was spectacular in net stopping 50 of 54 shots in the game, and was named the first star of the game. Tyler Anderson with a goal and helper while logging mega-minutes was the second star, and Kyle Johnson with two goals was the third. Ethan de Jong was the FortisBC Energy Player of the Game, with the game winning goal, and assist on Ben Poisson’s goal.
Game 5 is scheduled for Friday night at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena, with puck drop at 7pm. The Spruce Kings currently trail the series 3-1. If Prince George wins on Friday, the series will head back to Wenatchee for games on Sunday and Monday.
-Prince George Spruce Kings